I have (had?) a love/hate relationship with climbing. I generally wouldn’t climb much over winter – the rock is wet, and cold, and even my preternaturally warm hands suffer. As a result when spring came, I’d go climbing and be crap. This would put me in a bad mood, and then I wouldn’t climb as much, so I’d stay crap. Winter came, and the cycle continued. I had one year I didn’t climb at all. A picture with 14 words tells a thousand words. Recently, it’s been different. Partner in Climb discovered a new crag (relatively) close to City I Live. We went there a few times, and because it is such a lovely place I didn’t mind when I was rubbish. The grading there is really soft so I feel like I am more awesome then I actually am. This helps. I improved, and somewhere down the line my technique got dramatically better. I went from gingerly moaning my way up S grades (severe) to happily leading HS (hard severe), and it felt great. I went to Pembroke, where the routes are not so softly graded, and even though some stuff there was tough I felt good. I am strong – not relative to ‘good’ climbers, mind, and I still have massive scaredy-cat moments on lead where I chicken out and flee. Despite that, I’m the strongest I have ever been. I’ve gone from a struggling second on VS (very severe, which is harder than HS) to a struggling second on E1 (Extreme 1). I’ve picked up a little more confidence. I’ve lost a little bit of weight. I’m off to El Chorro in the near future, to climb the sunny sport of Spain. I think I may finally have broken the cycle of craptitude. It feels good.