Katherine @lovetoclimb facebook page

Happy Christmas!

19 Dec 2013

Time has accelerated as it often does and it’s suddenly less than a week before Christmas.  Not to mention I’ve not written a blog for nearly two months.

In my last blog I was looking for inspiration and I definitely found it again, but it took some time.  I decided that whilst I couldn’t make up my mind what I wanted to do I would just take a break.  I often find that when the head goes, the body packs in shortly after it.  For 3 weeks I didn’t attempt to fight it – ok well I did a couple of times and I was rubbish – and then one day I went back on the grit - Stanage to be precise.

Not to be taken away Mills photo

I will never tire of this climb:  Not to be taken away.  Thanks to Mills for the photo

Quite often, when you’ve not climbed on something as technical as grit for some time (for me being in sport climbing mode it was over 6 months), it’s a shaky, awkward mix of fun and frustration.  Amazingly this time it wasn’t.  The rock was damp in places, but it didn’t matter, my bum stuck right out backwards as I initially couldn’t trust my feet and I put too much strain on my arms, but I just repeated easy move after easy move to engrain the old feelings and habits.

It took me a number of attempts to get the Green Traverse (7a) again (a good marker for where I am), but that didn’t seem to matter either, and then I wondered what to do next.  The real aim of that session was to spot Nic on the Unfamiliar (now considered highball font 7c).  This thing is awesome and I’ve always admired it, sure I stood no chance.  As Nic and Dan swapped goes I thought I may as well have an attempt too, to fill the time.  It really felt like something I shouldn’t try.  I’m a mum (it’s high – although that doesn’t bother Dads) and always considered myself below the necessary standard.  It’s funny how it’s possible to break down barriers - just getting on these things is a start.  Above a load of pads it felt like I was at the climbing wall and lobbing off was an option.  Incredibly I actually got climbing on it, falling effectively on the crux.  I really, really want to do this thing, it’s one of the best pieces of climbing at Stanage.  But co-ordinating my climbing day with others (you need pads and spotters) may be a logistical nightmare.  We’ll have to see and I need to consider my strategy over the winter.

Dan McManus on Unfamiliar

I was lucky to watch Dan McManus make an impressive ascent of the Unfamiliar in dramatic ground up style - we were throwing gear up up him at the top - having completed the technical start it turns into a trad E4, 'easy' in comparison, but not so when you're pumped, it's getting dark and you don't know what you're doing.  Where Dan is here was my highpoint.

I went out two other times and gained two other projects since no one was on the Unfamiliar.  Actually it’s not like I’ve not been on them before.  But then I have my pre and post Vanessa climbing life.  So everything feels new after a break.  One requires pads and spotters too:  Beneath the Breadline 7b, another highball.  Again an alignment of the stars maybe necessary for that.  It’s good to have projects at two ends of the Plantation though.

The other project, whilst the hardest physically (not technically or mentally), may be the most achievable for me:  Jerry’s Traverse.  I’ve certainly put time into this in the past.  It’s desperate or at least it’s desperate for the grade (7c).  It’s also low (requiring no spotters), bum-scraping and actually a very poor line.  But sometimes climbing is just about desire, however uninspirational it is.  This thing is a milestone, which I want to achieve and will certainly help towards my sport climbing ambitions.  I’ve not tried it in at least 4 years and I was thrilled to do the best link I’ve ever done.

Hmm 3 times climbing outside in 2 months, that’s not good, but I’m not tearing my hair out about it.  I did start training again but I got another chest infection so I stopped and will start again after Christmas.  This is a cycle I’m not keen to dwell on here.  At some point I’ll figure out how to be a mum, work and climb, but I don’t quite seem to be there yet. 

Also... Kat, Katharine and Sam are underway with their winter training plans.  Good luck to them with all their training – it’s a hard job committing to training, but worth it.  I attended and worked at a very inspiring Women’s Symposium in London.  Tom Randall and I have made some short films to support our new BMC Advanced Technique course, which will become part of the Mountain Training Coach Award pathway.  And another highlight was this last weekend.  I co-delivered with (British Junior team coach) Tom Greenall the first ever Mountain Training Development Course.  Staff from the Climbing Works and a couple of others attended.

Development Coach Works

Development Coach course: Drawing stars again and again in difficult situations (with your left/right feet) helped people understand how to distribute practice of new skills.

This course forms the ‘how to coach’ part of the pathway.  At development coach level there is a heavy emphasis on coaching skills and this course is not a light under-taking.  Certainly Tom and I learnt a lot, just as those who attended did too.  Despite already working at a high level the coaches were challenged to think about their use of questioning, feedback, the theory behind skill acquisition and teaching models for longer term delivery, amongst other things!

I am really trying hard to wind down for Christmas.  There are still a few bits I need to finish.  I’m looking forward to some rest.  I really hope that you find time to relax and re-charge the batteries.  I think I need some new ones as the re-chargeable ones have worn out.  Maybe I’ll get some for Christmas!

Lots of love
Katherine x