Tuesday, 22 January 2008

January Blues

My long anxiety to escape from the routine of office life has returned with a vengeance. Yes, I am suffering from post climbing trip blues. It seems almost inevitable that a high is followed by a low; by definition, once you reach the top, the only way is down! But I hadn't imagined that returning from a long trip would be quite as deadening as it has bee. I don't feel inclined to do very much, least of all concentrate on matters which sometimes seem trivial and unimportant. Another interesting twist to the process of adjusting to being home is driving on the left-hand side of the road. It was relatively easy to adapt to driving on the right, but reverting to the left has been much harder. Even now, a month on, I find myself concentrating very hard to make sure I don't end up on the right-hand side of the road when I turn right! How strange.

I knew that coming home would be great. I would enjoy seeing friends again, having home comforts like hot showers, a comfortable bed and internet access(!); I even looked forward to some hard training indoors. But the joy has been relatively short-lived. This is not to say that the delight in seeing friends and family again is any less than I anticipated; it isn't, at all. But it has amazed me how quickly it feels as though I had never been away, how quickly things return to "normal". I've been back at work for only 2 weeks and already assumptions are being made that I know about x, y or z which happened while I was away. Clearly, my colleagues believe I have some special powers akin to omniscience, that I myself have yet to identify or harness! It's very flattering, but also a bit frustrating.

The word frustration brings me neatly to the subject of training indoors. I had been warned that long sport climbing trips have a tendancy to sap one's strength, particularly bouldering strength, but (in my usual cocky fashion) I firmly believed in my immunity from such symptoms. Wrong! My first trip back to Alien 2 was soul destroying. What do you mean that's a 3?? It feels like an 8!! Similarly, some of the lead routes at Alien 1 seem far tougher than I think they should be for the grade. As Mr Brown rightly pointed out to me the other day, I haven't been climbing steep stuff, which is why so many indoor routes feel so hard. It also highlights the disparity between indoor grades and outdoor grades. In my opinion, any comparison between the two is highly suspect.

On the positive side, the grade labels no longer seem to affect my inclination to attempt either routes or boulder problems, although there is a considerable "can I be bothered?" factor instead! I am sure that will change with time. Indoor walls seem very uninspiring by comparison with the great outcrops of limestone we had become accustomed to. I haven't been able to get outside climbing since I came home, partly because of the weather, partly because I now have my 9-5 job back again and partly because life is so complicated here! There are so many other things I have to do (and want to do), but there isn't time to do them all.

I am hoping this is just January Blues; I'm not sure whether I am treating or torturing myself by flicking through all 1700 photographs that we took.

I have, however, returned to something I love. We had a lovely walk to the top of Ben Vorlich. It was a beautiful day until we got to the summit, where we found ourselves in an icy, gusting wind and thick cloud! Despite being a little chilly, it was nice to be back in familiar surroundings....very different from sun-drenched, Spanish limestone.

The snowy summit of Ben Vorlich

The view towards Loch Earn

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Fontainbleau Photos

Here are some pictures of the time we spent in Fontainbleau in late September, early October. I have a whole lot more, this is just a slect few! I'll put more pictures up from other places along out route soon.

Fontainbleau Bouldering