Climbing in Scotland requires patience. Regardless of waiting for dry rock or ice to form, we all loath the waiting game. Living on the West Coast the toe tapping is often amplified, with the East typically seeing drier weather or a more resilient dusting to go play in. Its been three years since moving to Fort William and only now am I harbouring the skill needed to drink enough tea and coffee to pass the quiet time.
A new personal tactic is to actually train for winter. Until moving further north I relied on the summer’s rock climbing to support the fitness when switching to axes. By the end of each winter season I would be back climbing where I had finished the previous, not a good recipe for enhancing performance or pushing personal goals. My first season training with Kev had taught me to visit an indoor wall or hang off my axes in a dark basement they call ‘The Pain Cave’. This isn’t revolutionary stuff, but at the time I hated indoor climbing and was too stubborn or embarrassed to ‘fail’ at the wall. I now have a system and one that I really enjoy. Training has become part of surviving Autumn in the Highlands where the weather really does dictate your climbing not to mention the annual income. If you haven’t already got a copy, Steve Houses Training for the New Alpinism is an informative read. I found it useful to incorporate his systems in an attempt to train smarter and be more specific in my climbing goals.
Following tea, coffee and the odd, ahem; cake, another big plus of the waiting game is inspiration. Most Outdoor Professionals I know spend copious amounts of time on the net during the Autumn. It isn’t hard to be drawn away from adding another new course to the website to dribble over Facebook’s latest reminder of how good conditions were this time last year. I sometimes curse these notifications but on reflection its only building the psych to try harder next time my grip slips from an axe – psych isn’t going to come from looking at the weather forecast just now anyway! My personal inspiration comes from reading about the latest new route or difficult repeats, many of which feel out of my league but without inspiration I would struggle to aspire and everyone loves to dream right!?
I wrote whilst looking out the window at the current lack of winter over the hills. The words reassuring me that infact the waiting game enriches my well-being and acts as the starting blocks to a successful winter season. The snow will return to the Highlands, just in time to burn off the Christmas calories!