“The shower was more painful today. My scratched-up knees and sunburned calves were strong contributors, as were my aching shoulders, grazed forearms and squished feet. Day two of the Peak District climbing trip was going well.”

I’ve been pretty out of the climbing scene lately (along with all my other hobbies and interests, sadly) and getting back into it has been a frustrating process. I unrealistically expect to be back to the grades I used to climb immediately, and after the fat end of a year out of it that is not going to happen. As a consequence, my last couple of attempts at climbing have been angry, disappointing events, which put me off further trips and sealed a spiral downhill. Slovenia broke that loop a bit and I’m determined to ride the wave back to the dizzy heights (geddit?) of average-difficulty grades I was pottering, muttering and cursing my way up before.

And so here I am, one fist jammed inelegantly into a sandpaper-walled crack while I grope blindly above me for my next move, a child reaching for unseen prizes on the kitchen surface and hoping to avoid the painful pan-full of scalding water to the face. My knee is bleeding (again) where I snagged it on some outcrop and I can feel the air dancing around my hands because the skin is worn so thin, but I’m enjoying the challenge again, and that makes all the blood loss, dehydration and gritstone grazes alright.


And I’ll keep telling myself that until the hot water from the shower exposes every cut and erosion of my skin with flaring agony. Yes, sir.


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