Graduation day

On September 12, 2012

Welcome to the first post of my inspired writing. So much is going on that I wanted to start posting even though my website is not fully finished. Sometimes I do things that inspire me to share the experience that I have stumbled upon. I have tried drawing and painting, quickly realizing that if I am to convey any meaning at all it will have to be through words (albeit terribly spelled and constructed). Those that know me well will already be chuckling at the prospect of more abstract ramblings and philosophical rubbish. A close friend or not I hope you enjoy!

11/09/12.  Graduation Day!

Disclaimer – all assessments referred two are purely an internal reflection on my own climbing and by no means a judgment on the difficulty of the climbing involved, please take my account with a pinch of salt! Apologies for the lack of pictures for this story.

Today has been a great day, in fact a graduation day. For the last 4 years I have been in the primary school of Malham cove. Playschool has finished and now I am ready and excited for big school.

Nursery days, back in 2008 were all fun and games. Short catwalk routes were a soft introduction to the challenges ahead and exciting onsites such as Consenting adults (7a) and seventh Aardvark (7b).

The higher classes were entered in 2009 with the high entry requirement of Raindogs (8a), this saw many attempts and friends leave me empty handed as I struggled to keep up. However the personal achievement was great, at that time a personal best!

Now after 3 years of hard work and toil not to mention many a good route (the likes of Herbie (7c+) and New Dawn (7c)) I have completed junior school. Finally after much homework and many failed attempts I took my graduation in flying colors.

Zoo look (8a) is a route that has challenged me greatly over a 2 year period. Never fully focused or committed my half hearted attempts were scorned. This ultra classic testpiece and benchmark British limestone route positively laughed at my sloppy feet, soft tips and young fingers. The more I started to care about my education the further the master threw me back. The punishment for my arrogant behavior and closed mind was tens of meters of airtime.

On Saturday I returned to the masters fortress of limestone, fresh and hopeful that my change of heart and summer of reform might forgive me a year of bad behavior and truancy. The day got off to a good start with a quick, 2nd go ascent of Chiseling the dragon (7c).  However It was folly for me think that a assessment of this technicality could be left for so long and bagged just like that. I found the sequence was once again a mystery however several attempts refined my tactics.

That day I found the key to the door that had been holding back the higher gems of Malham. It was not a new foot hold or bigger arms that let me in but an understanding of the task I was facing.

I came down from my final attempt of the day with a smile on my face and contentment in my heart. I had not clipped the chains or even constructed a clear plan of how I was going to achieve this persistent challenge. However I had realized that failing persistently to achieve this goal was a huge gift. I realized that I was learning more from this route than those that I did first or second go today or 4 years ago. I also knew in my heart that once I had achieved this climb it would mark a great progression in my climbing.

My flat mates and me planned todays trip on Sunday excited to return. On the journey home I reflected on the days lesson, thinking over the moves in my head, adjusting the sequence and feeling the movement as we drove away through the fiery glow of an autumn evening. Over the next few days the lesson stayed in my mind and today I got my chance to prove my worth. I now knew that it was not a test of anything physical but a test of attitude and enjoyment.

The rain has begun here in Yorkshire and is unlikely to stop. We approached the crag through rainbow gates as the sun battled the rains. The air was cool and the space in front of the cove was filled with energy, water was already cascading off the 70m cove and the river in the bottom raged, unrecognizable as the trickle from couple of days before.

As I set off a flicker of doubt crossed my mind, anxiety that maybe I wasn’t ready and that I would be put back in my place again. I was brought back into the here and the now by the radiant sunshine and the omnipresent sound of flowing water. I progressed confidently placing the draws as I went. With a single hesitation through the crux sequence I completed my primary school education. The glorious tufas at the top flowed beneath me like the riverbed.

My primary classes are now finished, a joyous day and one that went out with a bang. Having re grouped myself I went on to dispatch the left hand version of the route, GBH (8a+) on my second go. I also took my first step into secondary school with a challenging exercise of tension and fierce holds on Predator (8b). Look out for updates on how this goes!

graduation hat

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