Wednesday, 10 December 2008


Any Idiot can face a crisis. It’s this day to day living that wears you out.

Anton Chekhov

Emma’s post on a grim train journey made me think of the above aphorism. Give me an E11 project any day compared to a daily commute of the type Emma describes (noisybusycrampedtraininbusycity).

It’s so true that we can turn around and see things in a completely different way if we want to. When dedicated climbs I’ve tried in the past that were hard for me, I’ve felt gut wrenchingly frustrated, exasperated, fatigued, terrified and under immense pressure.

But in a way that makes me smile to think back on those moments and wish I felt like that again, right now.

Do you know what I mean?

The other day someone told me that watching our film of Echo Wall left them feeling a little morbid at the seriousness of the situation on the lead. Sure I had to have a careful think if it was the right moment to climb a route like that. It’s all too easy to lose sight of your fragility when you have walked a long way down the road of confidence. But I felt lighter of step and of heart at the moment of starting up that route than maybe any other time in my life.

The great paradox in climbing is that the apparently uncomfortable journeys it takes you on are the best you’ll ever get. A grim commute can be a means to an end, sure. If the ends include nothing else but the mortgage getting paid, it might not be worth it. Can you tell if it is or not?

My feeling from climbing has been that hardship feels pretty grim, but only some of the time. The rest of the time, you turn round surprised at what hardship washed right over you, and you didn’t even notice (you were too busy thinking about where you were going with it). If it’s worth it, you will recognise this feeling. If not, hardship will always feel grim, but perhaps in numb way. Western living is good anaesthetic.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting, Dave. I think I know what you mean, although I probably need more time to think about it. Right now I'm busy suffering the hardship of sitting in an office tied to a computer, applying my well-trained brain to things that don't save lives (directly, anyway). Is Western life a good anaesthetic, or does it just cause the pain in the first place? What we "suffer" in Western life isn't really hardship in the wider sense of the word.

    Having said that, the train yesterday was hell on earth! No amount of money would persuade me to do that on a regular and frequent basis. Maybe travelling first class is better, though ;-)