Challenge, grades, surfing.. the experience.

First I was a walker. Later I got into scrambling and only then did I get into climbing.  The link through all these was the desire to explore new places, have an adventure and challenge myself. Grades meant nothing, it was all about the experience. If I am totally honest that is not always the case these days. Comparison with your mates, tick lists, graded lists, peer pressure and the ever increasing concentration, by the magazines and websites, on the pursuit of difficulty and comparing performances, means there is often a little devil sitting on my shoulder, whispering in my ear, when I am considering what and why to climb next. It may be telling you to do a route because ‘your mate just did it’ but it may also be telling you NOT to do a route because ‘there is no way I can climb that grade’. Now I am not a surfer but I have tried it a few times. Every wave is unique and different. They don’t have grades you cant compare one to another very easily and you cant go out intending to match or go one-better than your mate. You simply go out and contend with what nature throws at you. Like going climbing but without a guidebook. Now I’m not saying that we should get rid of guidebooks but just that i’ve realised that for me having all that information (and the attempts to be so precise with the grades – E4 hard for the grade, TD-, 5.10R, E2 or E1 for the tall) changes my experience. Some of my best climbing experiences have been whilst new-routing on expeditions abroad. The experience becomes everything again. You may fight for your life on a pitch and there is nothing or no-one to confirm whether you just pulled off the lead of your life, or just made a complete dogs dinner of a really easy pitch! By not knowing you are simply rewarded with the warm satisfaction of completing the pitch, having given it all that you’ve got.

Maybe I need to do more new-routing or go climbing without guidebooks. Or perhaps I should give surfing another go. This video may be about surfing but it reminded me of why I got into climbing and the mountains and gave me a prick of reality as to how far I may have slipped on occasions from my original reasons for getting out in the wild and challenging myself. I hope you enjoy it to.

 

 

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