Training fortuities

I’ve never written a climbing blog before. (Its Hannah)

With no natural tendency to report purely to topic, here it is: The greater decision making clarity required in climbing; the immediacy of one hold, another, a well or poorly placed nut – swamped by the bubbling undercurrent of life and its myriad of existential anxieties. You can tut. Its ok.

In April I had my Anna Karenina moment. Never before had agony been so sweet, joyous and unresolvedly messy. Actions that reached after a tidy linear drama backfired. At the end of the month against my lost wishes I was saying goodbye to the limestone karsts of Tonsai, Thailand; to the wild, monkey-like style of climbing; the wee bamboo hut I’d been living in in the jungle; and by that time of year, the almost bath like temperatures of the tropical sea.

Glasgow welcomed my return with a May of hail, and I cowered in a friend’s basement flat, always in down jacket, only emerging to see where my trad grading was at on the central belt dolerite quarries.


Quarrying it up on one of Cambusbarron’s warmer moments -Miss Po [photo Arthur Huille]

No longer ‘teacher Hannah’ on home ground, I went on the dole. Classic Rock was then the order of the day and a few days were spent shivering on ledges, ticking off all the pleasantries of the granite, schist and the Glencoe volcanics. I shouldn’t have been surprised to have found winter gloves necessary, or for the need to kick steps in our trainers, but it had been two years since my last Scottish summer and the beauty and the midges had proven the only indelible prints on my mind.


Squareface looking fine in the evening light [photo Henry O’Brian]

However 6 weeks haem and jobless internet telly life was getting me down. Old friends from Glasgow were now working in England. Students I could have climbed with were away for the summer. But at my most bitter-miserable when the future stretched on in that empty pointless, post-teenage-angst-clueless-graduate sort of way, a space appeared on a bus for the uni clubs annual alpine trip. The next day I was off the Dole-o-mites.

Thank fuck a reason to get up at 7 every morning, instead of just on sporadic cragging days. And getting fit for Kyrgyzstan would be easier with company, transport and bigger mountains with longer routes. 2 and a half weeks of Italian sun (and storms), a beautiful day up Yellow Edge, and a uncharacteristic 15 pitch grade V solo of Punta Fiames later and my mind was easing.


Fiames arete [photo Will Hasite]

That is the easiest thing, to keep climbing. ‘Don’t think too much’ the Thais say often to the worried. You can abuse a statement like that, that clearly means something other than thoughtlessness. Or you can just keep looking at the mountains, the sky. On this trip we will have the freedom to make more decisions than before. Our own forecasts of weather, freezing levels, the weaving of a route. Conditions our full consideration and responsibility – I will not think too much. Most thoughts in these circumstances are not impotent but live in on going action amongst friends. An unclimbed peak, is an unclimbed peak, is a ridge, a face, a path that may go, or may not, or then another.

I could edit this bollocks, but now I must go to bed. We fly in the morning.