Happy Birthday to me!!

21st Apr 2010

This time 17 years ago and 2 days, I onsighted my first E3. It was my 21st birthday and a very momentous occasion for me. At the start of the year I was leading HVS, then a month or so before onsighted my first E1 (which as it turned out was E2!) and then some E2s. But E3 was the big one for me and the fact that it was ‘Sunlover direct’ at Trevallen, Pembrokeshire was significant. Not least because of it’s name! I am the ultimate sunlover, so it had to be that route, even though as it turned out it’s not completely straightforward. But I will never forget that climb, it was the start of an amazing period and within the year I was onsighting E5s.

My 39th (ah, can that be true?) birthday came and went on Monday- with no earth-shattering climbing news. In fact I didn’t climb at all, which was ok, Tim and I spent a nice day doing ‘stuff’. Which is necessary and enjoyable, especially because at the moment I have been getting out quite a lot.

News on my shoulder injury is that it seems to be slowly improving. I had physio this morning (with the gifted Alison Macfarlane) and now have a new set of exercises to work away on. The pain is subsiding and the mobility is improving, so I can’t complain really. I just wish it wasn’t taking sooo long. I first noticed this problem in Spain (prob March ’09) last year, so it’s taking it’s time but hey there is light at the end of the tunnel.

With the injury, trad seems to be the best course of action. So I have been getting out quite a lot on the grit and slightly further a field. Some of the places I’ve been are Ilkley, Eastby, Almscliff, Tremadog, Stanage, The Roaches, Millstone and so on. Part of the reason I was thinking of Sunlover (apart from my birthday memory) was because of the fantastic weather we’ve been having. I am in heaven, my body seems to come alive when the sun is out and the temperature goes up a few degrees. Although saying that I was out at Millstone yesterday with Sari and it was absolutely baltic- what is going on?! We wanted to go to Stanage but it was so windy that we didn’t even get out of the van and turned tail to Millstone. It was bloomin cold there too but just bearable, although I nearly got frostbite in my fingers.

I’ve mainly been doing nice easier routes and just enjoying the feeling of moving on rock and remembering how to place gear. I did do an E4 at The Roaches and it was good to get on something harder. It was a roof flake, a little friable but not too bad. I do enjoy being in the horizontal especially when there’s gear. I’ve come to the conclusion that slabs are not my medium and I don’t enjoy the feeling of teetering about with no gear. I enjoyed it in my youth but not any more.

I love going to new venues, so it’s been really nice getting out and about seeing different places. Tim has been along quite a bit too which has been great, so we’ve been collating images for future articles etc. It’s nice to get a lot of climbing under my belt, even though it’s quite easy stuff. I am still going to the Foundry 1-2 times a week, just to keep the fitness levels up, so that’s working well.

The van has had a surge too. The good weather has inspired us to put some work in on it. A cupboard is taking shape, it will be the longest ever build for a cupboard; one shelf seems to take a few hours to put in. But no matter, it WILL get there. The problem is there are no straight edges in the van, just lots of modern curves and swoops, so measuring is a headache. But we’ve chosen paint for the wood and it looks very nice. We just can’t wait to get it finished, it will be amazing to go away in it. Alex and I stayed in it at Tremadog and it was great. Ok there was nothing in it but the spotlights worked!! It was warm and vaguely comfy, so bring it on is what I say.

In fact we are back off to Tremadog tonight, looks like it should be lovely again. Although maybe a few degrees colder, which is just not fair in my book. Last week I was like a lizard on the belays basking in the sun, it was fab but I think it may be layers on this time around. Anyway, it’ll be great to do some more nice routes. I have done a lot at Tremadog, so most stuff will be repeats but it’s been a long time since I did them, so they shouldn’t feel too familiar. Also, Alex had a nasty accident last year and broke her back, so she is regaining confidence again and getting back into it and Tremadog is a good place for that.

I’ve got a very busy time coming up. I’m not sure how much climbing I’m going to be able to fit in the next few weeks. I’m travelling round the UK on the BMC rock climbing essentials masterclass tour with Katherine Schirrmacher. It should be fun but lots of driving. Then I’m going to France with Tim to help him on a big photo shoot that he’s doing, then straight back and off to Pembroke with Alex, then straight back and up to Pabbay with a different gang- phew!! Busy times but enjoyable…

I will try to keep you posted with all the fun and games.