The man behind Monkey Fist asked me earlier this year if the accident I had last summer had made me more determined to get better than ever. I felt like the answer should have been ‘yes’, but I was honest and I said, ‘no. There is nothing positive to take from any of this’.
After all, before the accident my psyche was unassailable. I knew I would get better because I wanted to get better. Whereas, at the time of that conversation, my psyche was a flimsy thing I put on occasionally to try and feel like I was doing the right thing.
For a long time I believed that there was absolutely nothing positive to take from the experience. But I was wrong. The continual ups and downs during the recovery process, and the inescapable truth that I couldn’t force myself to be motivated for the wrong reasons, forced me to think about why I climb and what I enjoy about climbing.
Back in the present. I watch climbers tackle the foamy lip of the grey, ever-cresting wave that is the Cornice. There are occasional bursts of encouragement to either side. We know they don’t need it, but it’s nice to give them some support. In typical British style we all hugely understate any kind of achievement, but we’re all secretly pleased and so is the climber, even if it is soft. My turn next and after a jaw-droopingly poor show of technique I find myself yarding back up the rope, more than a little exasperated.
A year ago I didn’t think I’d be there, with routes on my mind and an honest desire to do them. I’m still a bit scared of committing myself to something, just in case my psyche can’t handle it.
So I find i now have a new relationship with climbing and the climbs, but I like it – it feels more honest. Like weak Steve, I want to do the routes, but I don’t need them! The ambition and desire to really see what I’m made of is coming back too. I guess there was something positive after all.