Ethan Walker Blog
Leading climber Ethan Walker has just won the Climbing category of the 2014 Trespass Blog Awards (news item here). He shares his latest blog here with Climber and it's well worth a read.
I've been trying to gather some thoughts together in my head for a blog update for a good few weeks now. Each time I came to type up the collection of ideas and jumble of words, I would sit staring at the blank white page on my laptop, without a clue of where to start or if it would even end up being remotely interesting to anyone. Eventually I'd give in and go make another pot of tea.
The end of the season didn't bring what I was hoping for and despite all the efforts and time invested, I had to walk away empty handed for probably the first time in my climbing life. This is what abject failure feels like is it?
Without wanting to sound big headed, what frustrates me more than anything is the fact that I know deep down that I should have nailed this thing. Yes it is hard, yes it would have been the hardest graded route I've ever done, but what was stopping me was not the fact I was too weak or just simply not fit enough. I think if that was the case I'd have been able to accept the whole situation much more freely and easier. It was simply down to factors that were completely outside of my control.
I tried everything in the book to keep the blood flowing through my little digits. My many belayers and partners will testify to how much time I spent experimenting with different methods. Laps, of Ben's Roof, dogging up to the crux, countless sprinting up and down the road, Pound Land hand warmers stuffed in my chalk bag. Even laps up Mecca before the red point go! Nothing seemed to work.
Luck would definitely play a part sometimes, maybe the sun would poke its face out and lift the air temp slightly or gently warm those tiny holds just as you approached the headwall, but in the end the weather or whatever you want to call it, soundly beat me.
After a couple of big breakthroughs and as I started to realise more and more that the route was actually a possibility I knew it was just going to be a case, as these things always are, of just getting everything to align perfectly together.
The first time the thought of the season ending and walking away with nothing entered my head, I started to panic and that is when the stress of it all really began to kick in. Nerves became a bigger issue with each session. Uncertainty and doubt can play havoc with your psyche. I wanted this thing so badly. I kept comparing it to where I was at last year when I was embroiled in another redpoint battle on the extension.
Time flew by at a crazy rate of knots, unlike anything I've known before, and even as November arrived and the first frosts started to appear, I still had faith that maybe, just maybe it would still go.
However I had to start to admit to myself that it might not happen this time and as the days flew past, at their crazy speeds, I gradually came to accept it. The route is going no where, it'll be there ready and waiting for me in the spring. Which when you think about it is only a few months away!
So even though I came away with no big tick, and occasionally it still hurts that it didn't happen I no longer view it as a failure in any way. I learnt so much about myself, about my climbing and what I am actually capable of. As well as gaining a whole new perspective and outlook on climbing in general. This sport is extremely addictive and despite the stress and the bad days it was still a hella lot of fun!
I hope that the whole experience has made me a better climber and that I'm wiser for it...
The stand out lesson for me though has to be learning to accept that sometimes, you really do just have suck it up and let go.
It has all been said before by various rock gurus but climbing isn't all about the send. You can argue that the majority of the time it is but it is also about the journey we take to get to that point of pure heaven when we finally tick our projects. It's about the mental battles, the physical battles, the breakthrough days as well as the days where nothing seems to be going right. In the end you'll more than likely remember the journey you took to reach that finish line, rather than the actual moment of success.
A huge shoutout and thank you has to go out to all the folk that encouraged and helped me during the last few months. You all know who you are and I really appreciate each one that supported me on my quest!
It was so close I could virtually taste success, but if it wasn't a battle then it wouldn't be hard. And that is what I strive for in my climbing. To push myself to my absolute limits. Not just physically but mentally too. Kaabah certainly did that.
Right now it is all about Christmas for me. Enjoying some time chilling out, relaxing, hanging out with friends and eating lots of good food. The weather has been pretty shoddy for any full blown grit ventures just yet, although I did manage to squeeze in a quick ascent of Ben Moon's 'Full Power' (V11) a week or so back. Definitely feeling the bouldering vibe at the moment. It is a pleasant change of scene from the rigours of the red point. I have my eye on a couple things but we'll see how stuff goes and if the weather gods are kind to us...
In the mean time I'm slowly getting stuck into some training, keeping the fitness levels up before full training kicks in at the start of the New Year. Ready for a couple of trips that are in the pipeline and another all out assault on the Tor in the spring.
We've also been working on a couple of really cool video projects over the last few months which I hope to be able to share real soon. Pretty excited to see the final edits so keep an eye out for those.
I have to admit that I'm loving having some actual time off. I think it could be good for me! Waking up with no real plan in place for the day ahead has been pretty nice.
Anyway, thanks for checking in and for once again sticking with my ramblings for another year. Hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
See you at the crag :)
Oh and lastly... It appears my blog has been shortlisted for some kind of an award. It'd be great if you could follow the link below and give me a quick vote. :)
(Ed. Ethan went on to win the Climbing category of the 2014 Trespass Blog Awards. Congratulations from Climber)
Many thanks to Ethan for letting us use his latest blog. You can read abouth Ethans adventures on his blog at ethanwalkerclimbing.blogspot.co.uk
Ethan is sponsored by Mammut, 5.10, Nakd n Trek, Scheckter's, ProBalm and BMC.