Where to begin. Do I start with a summary of what an incredible year 2014 has been? The ideas and plans for 2015, Sophie and I have been hatching? Or the feeling that, even after so many experiences, I still feel like a complete beginner.
2014, a quick review
In the last 12 months, rather a lot has happened:
- Started this blog
- Moved to Chamonix
- Changed up my training and nutrition
- Celebrated my first year of marriage
- Went on the most incredible adventure with my wife (here, here, here, here, here, here, and here)
- Climbed more in this year then the rest of my life put together (here, here, here, you get the idea..)
- and more
I am very fortunate to be able to say that the underlying feeling of the year is that I have been happy. There has been no shortage of change, sacrifice, difficult decisions, and hard work but, at the end of the day, I have been truly happy all year. It has been an incredible year and one that will be impossible to forget. I am grateful to have shared it with my wonderful wife, Sophie, to have made so many awesome and inspiring friends, and to the position I now find myself in entering 2015.
All this change has taken its toll though. Along with the massive highs there have been some lows; the most common being the feeling of insecurity, the feeling that everyone around me knows what they are doing and I’m still cobbling it together, and that, even after all I have learnt, I am still a complete beginner.
There is always someone bigger/stronger/faster/better
I was out up in a small climbing crag above Les Houches back in October with a good friend, Gabo, and he was helping me with my rock climbing. Gabo is an aspirant mountain guide who has been climbing for a very long time and his help has been invaluable. I was struggling with a very technical 6a route and was getting very frustrated. I had just cleanly led a 6b so why was I finding it impossible to get up this easier route?
My arms tired and so did my motivation, I humbly asked to be lowered to the ground and, as I watched Gabo cruise up and clean the route, I felt pretty low. I started beating myself up about it; I should be able to have climbed that; I’ve climbed harder; did I give up too easily?
As we packed up, I voiced my thoughts to Gabo. He turned to me and, very matter-of-factly told me ‘Yeah, but you’re a beginner’. My initial reaction was to snap back ‘No I’m not!’ like a little child but I bit my tongue. Gabo could see what I was thinking though and carried on: ‘we are all beginners, keep an open mind, treat everything as a lesson and it will come’.
The standard of everything in Chamonix is so high; there are the best mountain runners, climbers, BASE jumpers, and more in the world are here. These high standards, incredible terrain, and motivated atmosphere means that the average level is raised too. It is easy to forget that I only really started climbing 3 years ago and even then, that was based out of London, trying to fit in a maximum of 10 days of climbing per year. This summer alone, I have been out climbing over 40 days.
I have come so far over the last year and, in the grand scheme of things, I am truly a beginner in so much. Trying to compare myself to others is a futile effort, I don’t know their back story, all the work they have put in, and how hard they have been working to get where they are. All I can do is take their success as inspiration for my own commitment and progress.
Starting 2015 as a beginner
I have a list longer than very long thing of objectives, dreams, and ideas for this year but I am going to make a different New Years resolution this year. I am a beginner and proud of how far I have come in the last 12 months.
My resolution for 2015 is to consolidate everything I have learnt in 2014.
I have taken massive leaps and now I need to build out my foundation for what is to come.
Already I have managed to get a trip over to Cogne yesterday where Sophie and I had an amazing time on a route called Valmiana, a grade 3 ice fall that, only a year ago would have intimidated me. Yesterday, however, I felt great on the terrain, moving confidently and just enjoying being out ice climbing after a rather long spell away. That, coupled with Sophie leading her very first pitches made it a wonderful start to the New Year.
So here I am, saying bring on 2015, I’m ready for you!