Friday, 16 September 2011

New Low

I've been told for a while now that my writing is pretty honest so in this post I'll continue that and try give you an idea of what I've experienced in the last two days. If you've been following this blog you will know I've been attempting to climb an E8 in the Mournes for around 18 months and had no luck. I've poured my life and soul into these 20m of rock and even for someone like me it's been a brutal emotional rollercoaster. In the past when I've been going at risky routes I've always been fairly certain I would not only survive them but survive them unbroken but on this I had no such confidence, with this project I had to accept that I wouldn't have as good a chance. I did accept it ,no question but it has made me live my life not knowing from one day to the next where I'll be or what state I'll be in and it has wore on me. I can deal with it, only just though, as I deserve whatever happens as it's my own choosing to live this life, what I cannot accept is that it's affecting others around me. It rained on us again the other day and my frustration began to boil over and someone else felt it, they shouldn't have and I hated myself for it, failure to climb was nothing on the disappointment in myself at losing control of emotion and venting at someone who didn't deserve it.

Seriously pissed off, I'm making one of the toughest decisions of my life here. Pic-Suzy Devey

We have been in the Mournes for the last few days, I got ten minutes on the route, on a shunt, in the rain. I tried to climb, I fell, I swore, I hung on the rope, I knew I was beat and it was time to do the one thing I'm good at, cut away. I stood for a while before deciding , then I went and packed up. On the way up I could hear the guys chatting and having a laugh, at that moment I realised how detached I was from not only them but how I felt distant from me. I took off for the walk out at a blistering pace to try use physical pain to distract me from the utter mental torment I was feeling. I stopped on top of a huge cliff realising that no matter how hard I push I'm not going to get this out my system, I felt more empty and alone at this point than I have at any other point in my life, with nothing to cushion the blow of utter failure or anyone to take comfort from I felt physically sick. I've sacrificed everything in my life for climbing to such an extent that the pathetically sad truth is that the only place I now find solace is in climbing, this is an outcome I tried very hard to avoid but seemed somehow inevitable!I've been in darker depths before though so I'm sure I'll beat it again, it'll just take time. We tried to do some filming afterward to get my raw feelings on camera but even for those present who know me it seemed too much yet it wasn't even a fraction of how I felt, and this post barely scratches the surface. To end on a positive though I've got a few great projects in mind before the op in November and a weekend of drinking with my mates to kick me out of wallowing in my swamp of self pity, I guess I just need to man up, treat the last 18 months like a broken relationship, remember the good parts and get rid of the rest! I've met some great people in the last few months and built a few important friendships so it's not all bad!!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

No Going Back?

" Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill!........You knew didn't you? I'm part of you?Close, close, close! I'm the reason why it's no go. Why things are what they are."

William Golding

Lord of the Flies

I came across this quote the other day and it sums up rather well my failed borderline schizophrenic attempts to quit high risk climbing. Hopefully this post will explain where my head is at before this climb and what lead me here. I'm also hoping that writing about it will be personally cathartic and clear some headspace!
The 'Beast' mentioned in the quote above I relate to the inner demon that drives my climbing and risk taking. I wish it was the inspirational motivation that people think it it is but it sure aint. It controls most of my major decisions and terrifies me with its power to do so. On one side I hate and fear it but on the other I love and respect it, it's tough to balance between them. Going too far in one direction means depression and darkness and the other in a frenzy of dangerous climbing like soloing F&F or gaining grades solo and quickly.

This face somewhat sums up my minds reaction to quitting, basically saying "F**k Off"

I had genuinely thought I was past all this but after the fall I knew I would have to prove to myself I still had bottle and the only way to do that would be to come back and improve on what I have done before. Since the fall I've had a chance at a couple of relationships which is what I thought I wanted but the drive to climb hard again beat any prospect of that and once again emotions were swept ruthlessly aside to make way for climbing. I don't understand why I couldn't just be happy with surviving the fall and all my solos and just settle down, no point dwelling on that stuff though.

Totally entranced with the moves on Tolerance - Pic- Suzy Devey

It's been over a year and a half since the fall and since I managed back on my feet almost every waking moment has been gearing toward what I hope will happen next week, success on E8. These 20 metres of rock have dominated everything for that time, nothing else has particularly mattered and it makes me see how selfish I've become so perhaps it's time to utter the words "I'm quitting after this one" once again only to realise that people are right and as one writer put it "climbing for Kev is an irreversible decision", perhaps there is no going back now? But then with my date for my operation confirmed for 30th of November I don't really have much choice in the matter of stopping for the majority of next year, time to stock up on box sets again!!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Pints Help Climbing-Fact

Last week I was in Ayrshire to catch up with mates and sadly trade in my beloved Astra, like waving goodbye to my youth. On the Sunday while having dinner watching 'The Wildest Dream' I was summoned to my local pub The Black Bull by Fiona, Kenny the Publicans wife. After a few pints we were discussing the financial aspect of my upcoming trip to Ireland, Fiona found it hard to believe that as a sponsored climber I don't really make any money whatsoever from the game.

The magical power of the pint prevails

Finding this crazy she immediately offered to put £500 from her own company , she asked if this would help as I tried not to splutter into my pint. I wasn't even going to go for a drink that night but I'm glad I did as Fionas kindness has taken a considerable amount of pressure off us for this trip, Cheers Fiona........................

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Head Games

Today I was back at my old stomping ground , Quadrocks, Largs, to see how my head space was for getting on route's that I cannot afford to make mistakes on. I teamed up with Al (climbing partner for impending trip to Mournes) Alan Fox (photographer) and my mates Tam and Alec. The banter was good and the conditions fine for a spot of mid grade soloing. With my promise to myself and a few close others to stop soloing broken I set off up The Arete, E3 for my first route of the day and climbed in a focus induced trance like state floating up the moves, this was exactly what I needed to feel.

On The Arete, E3, Quadrocks, Largs. Pic-Alan Fox

Next up was one of my own routes there, Fatal Kiss E4 6a. I haven't soloed this one in a few years but after top roping it to remember the moves I felt very comfortable relaxing on even the sketchy crux move. Bit more physical and mental prep to go yet though before the trip in just over a week!!
After the hard moves on Fatal Kiss, E4 6a, Quadrocks - Pic- Alan Fox