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:

2014, a happy year

2014, a happy year

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

Gabo and Sophie with post kettlebells shakes

Gabo and Sophie with post kettlebells shakes

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.

A great first day climbing of 2015

A great first day climbing of 2015

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!

by Charley Radcliffe

9 Responses to “Starting 2015 as a beginner”

  1. Davy Wright

    Sounds like a good plan, Charley.

    Hopefully part of is to come to see our pointy things in Scotland! Don’t think I’ll make Chamonix this year.

    Here’s to 2015, may it be adventurous!

  2. Jonathan Fuhrmann

    Hey Charley,

    Enjoyed reading this – kind of pleased/relieved to hear that that feeling of being out of your depth/”a beginner” happens to other people, too. I get it in the context of photography and blogging, which makes it particularly hard to try and make anything professional in that direction take off.

    If you’ve been to Sydney, it’s the same from a physical perspective if you go to Bondi Beach – like Chamonix, it’s a massive gathering spot for the super-fit and athletic and even above-average looking people can end up feeling a bit cowed by it all…:p

    Hope 2015 goes well for you – onwards and upwards! Hoping to make it out to Chamonix for a bit of hiking/climbing at some point as well!

  3. Amanda

    Thank you for this. I love it. Life and dreams and plans don’t always have to be so complex. I look forward to following this space.

  4. Liam Gallagher

    Great post Charley,

    I’m always comparing myself to those better, I guess it’s only natural and it’s always good to push ourselves. I have a friend trying to lose weight and they constantly disheartened by the distance they cover on a run, when in reality they’re still doing a heck of a lot more than those sat on the couch – I think we forget that sometimes…



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