Well, that’s 2008 over and done with, and I guess it’s fair to say that it was really my first year of learning to climb. Sure, I’d done a bit of indoor climbing back in 2007, but this time last year I had yet to lead anything, indoors or out, and had my ambition set to lead something graded Severe before the year was out. As it happens, I did this on my first venture up to Birchen, but a lot of other stuff has also happened this year.
High points? My first lead at Birchen, the fantastic weekend away in Montserrat, climbing in the company of Adrian Berry, climbing the stunning cliffs at Baggy Point, watching Sol get to the top of his first E1 lead, and I know the purists will shoot me for this, but also top-roping Great Slab, and realising just how good a climb can be. The perfect solitude when I turned up early to the crag at Birchen and had the whole place to myself for 30 minutes. The walk-in to Dovestone Tor. But I think the moment that will stay with me the longest was standing alone on top of La Momieta in Montserrat.
Low points? Giving up on Tody’s Wall sticks in my mind. And forgetting to take a fork to Stanage so I had to eat my pot noodle with matchsticks was also pretty crap.
Plans for 2009? I’m deliberately not setting a grade I’d like to achieve, as grade-chasing isn’t really what motivates my climbing. So, instead, I’ve taken the Top 50 list from the Eastern Grit guidebook, and I’m going to see how many of them I can get done in a year, starting this weekend – the weather looks set fair, so Sol and I are heading up to Stanage to get cracking. I know this is rather a restrictive ambition, given the wealth of climbing available in this country, but it just happens that the Eastern Peak is the closest domestic climbing to my home in The Fens. And of course, as with everything else, I completely reserve the right to change my mind if I suddenly discover that I have a penchant for climbing sea cliffs and a lot of time on my hands to travel to them.
Oh, and another weekend in Montserrat also beckons.
Looks like being a busy year. Let’s hope we get some half-decent summer weather.