Don't Call It A Comeback

I'll never forget the moment I fell out of love with climbing; the feeling as my fingers pinged off the hold, the pain as my toe broke as it hit the roof, the realisation that months of training and effort had been for nothing as I sat on the train back to London from Paris - it's almost exactly 5 years to the day since I last touched that rock and the memory is still fresh. 

It had been the first day of warm enough weather during a brutally cold period in Font, we'd spent many days reading in the van avoiding the snow. I'd wanted this project badly and knew it suited me, perhaps I'd wanted it too much and was too eager to try it, I should have taken the advice of the guy who was trying his project on the same bloc 'still probably too cold' he muttered as he pinged off  an awful looking sloper. But I didn't. I took the rail and pulled on, it felt good to be back pulling hard again after the cabin fever of van life. The moves felt easy, all I had to do was put the toe hook in, match, pop for the jug and it would be over - a lifetime goal ticked - then in a second, it was over and a love affair which had begun almost a decade before on the southern sandstone of England came to an end. 

I haven't touched rock since. 

Looking back I can see why it ended so abruptly.  Climbing and training had filled a void in a particularly turbulent and tough period in my life, I had used training as an escape from everything else around me - the result was that it had become everything to me. Living in London trips to rock were scarce, you had to make them count. The pressure mounts in that situation, all of the training leads to great strength and with that comes great expectations. You have to send, you're expecting it, those around you are expecting it - you've staked everything on it.

I'd staked too much on it. 

Five years later things are different. I'm writing from a different continent, with a settled life and most importantly rock on my doorstep and world class problems a close drive. Surfing has filled the void for me these past years and most importantly kept me fit and given me new strength in my body. It has also bulked me up and some of that weight will have to go, but that's the easy part. The hardest part will be getting that strength back. 

But this isn't a comeback, it's a whole new start. Climbing and training is no longer the escape for me it was before, the pressure is off and with it I am sure the projects will fall.  It felt good to pull the shoes on again and chalk up for the first time. It felt good to fire the blog up again, but it felt right to start it afresh, to document a new journey. I'm typing this with sore skin after my first month of climbing. It has been a month of mileage and conditioning, the diet has begun and next week the real training will start in time for the spring temps to hit New York. To ensure the motivation continues my first trip is booked for the summer - Magic Woods to take care of some unfinished business. 

 

Game on. 

 

 

Neal Mann

New York City

Editor