So after a long and snow filled winter the first bank holiday of the year arrived in the form of an early easter which signalled the start of summer. With a big trip planned to Yosemite in September I wanted to get my head back in the trad climbing game. Also having a couple of days holiday to take before the end of the financial year it seemed sensible to tag it on to the easter bank holiday giving me a solid six days of to get back on it. We choose to go down to Cornwall as it tends to always have good weather, is a bit far to drive for just a weekend and is granite so would be a great way to start training for the valley.
Now I have tried to keep climbing fit over the winter with a few trips to the Peak District but a lot of training went into the legs and the cardio to help with my ski touring and mountaineering plans. The other thing that you cannot really train is the mental aspect of trad climbing which you can lose over time.
I headed off to Cornwall with a list of E2 and E3’s that should be well within my ability especially as granite crack climbing is my thing and I had been focusing on cracks every time I had gone to the Peaks over winter. However one thing came to light as soon as I arrived. Whilst my upper body was fine my feet didn't feel secure and my head had gone to bits.
We spent the first two days at Bosigran and Sennan where I had real trouble trusting my feet even on VS’s and HVS’s, on gritstone your feet stick to everything (as long as it is dry) wear as granite is a lot more slick. My head had also lost its cool, despite the gear being absolutely bomber I was double checking everything and putting in way more than I needed.
Now I gave up on chasing grades years ago as it was stressing me out and vowed to just enjoy climbing for climbing sake however when you know that you can physically do something and it is just your head holding you back that is frustrating.
After a particularly long battle with my nemesis route (story for another day) at Sennan I decided to wind things right back. So I just focused on finding good quality VS’s and plugging away at those for a few days. By the end of the trip I had gotten my confidence back and was back up to E1’s and E2’s with out getting stressed out or a mental block.
When I got home and was training in the gym I was going through Steve Houses “Training for new alpinism book” and found an article written by Mark Twight called TINSTAAFL which stands for “`There is no such thing as a free lunch”. Now in the context of the article he was talking about physical training but I think the same applies to mental training. You have to train yourself to control your fears but that training has to continue and after a few months of not training it, I had lost it and it took me a few days to train it back up to where it should be.