Sophie and I give each other a knowing look after dinner, saying ‘do we have any chocolate?’. I get up and find some stashed away for emergencies and we both smile guiltily. It’s well into 2015 and we are both trying to undo the inevitable Christmas indulgences but it is so easy to break when you’ve got a partner in crime.

Challenge Sophie, my partner in crime

Challenge Sophie, my partner in crime

My partner in crime

Whether it is staying in bed and missing an early training session, getting out somewhere and just wanting to go back home and chill on the sofa, or crack open that second bar of Oreo stuffed Milka, if you’ve got someone to share the blame with, it is oh so much easier to let go and indulge.

For all the times that Sophie and I facilitate each other’s slipups, however, I know I am incredibly fortunate to share the positives that this criminal partnership brings along. I was talking to Sophie about this and she replied:

‘Yeah, but you never bunked school on your own’

I can’t help feeling that my whole life right now is bunking school a little. Don’t get me wrong, I have to work and do things that, at times, seem a real chore, but looking out of my window every day I wake up I get to see the Mont Blanc Massif in all her glory. My early morning runs are now being swapped for strapping skis on and skinning up mountains, my strength and conditioning work is shared with steep dry tooling training, and when I sit at my laptop, working away, I just have to look out the window to be inspired to work harder.

All of this is possible because I have someone to share it with, someone to egg me on when I’m scared, and someone to share the consequences with if it doesn’t quite work out to plan. The security and confidence that being a team gives me has allowed me to change my life so massively over the last few years and I couldn’t be more grateful even if there are times we bring out the weaknesses in each other.

Poker night with new partners in crime and climbing

Poker night with new partners in crime and climbing

Finding the perfect partner

Though I have found a partner in crime in Sophie, understandably, we don’t do everything together. Over the last 9 months I have been trying to build up my pool of climbing partners and it has been difficult. Climbers are a small percentage of the population, add to that my skill level, then my aspirations and the pool is even smaller. Small but not impossible.

Through the summer I have climbed with over 20 different people and one thing I have learnt is, there is no such thing as the perfect partner. There is, however, the perfect partner right now. Someone who, on that day, has the same objectives, necessary skills, and personality match that allows you to have a great day out. Sometimes that is Sophie, other times it is one of my new partners and this variety is making me a more rounded and competent climber as well as shaping me as a person.

When I was in London, I only really ran on my own though sometimes with one or two other people. I never tested the water or tried to find the perfect running partner for reasons I still don’t know but often, now, wonder what would have happened if I had. Would I be a better runner? Maybe. Would I have got to know someone I wouldn’t have otherwise? Most definitely.

Sharing experiences with people, I’m discovering maybe a little late, is what life is about and the only way to do that is to put yourself out there and keep on trying. Your path will cross with the most unlikely of people from the most varied of backgrounds and, though some of them will be passing acquaintances, others will grow into firm friends.

Though Sophie and I are joining a wonderful and vibrant community here in Chamonix, I want to remember that I’m still very new here and the welcoming spirit of the people we have met so far has allowed us to have such an amazing time thus far. In return, I want to make sure that I am just as open and inviting as others have been as who knows who I might meet next!


by Charley Radcliffe

2 Responses to “It takes two to Tango”

  1. Stephen Baker

    Hi Charley,

    I don’t think you have to worry about feeling like you’re bunking school a little, your life in Chamonix is really a gift and strapping the skis on or dry tooling is just part of life. We all can see through the tweets and posts that your life is pretty full on.

    If only I had the good fortune to wake up every day looking at Mont Blanc Massif… but that’s a dream for another time. (Insert dreamy smile here)

    It’s great that you can share with Sophie and provide each other support, egging each other on whether it’s to have that forbidden indulgence or an early morning exercise routine or ice climbing etc. and of course also fantastic that you have found a small but growing people with a like-minded interest to share those other experiences.

    I remember a short while ago you mentioned that you feel like a beginner with your climbing, I guess in a sense that every day of our lives we are all just beginners fumbling through the new things that confront us, but growing confident with the knowledge of many past and current experiences all of this shared with one or many people along the way.

    I’m 54 and still a beginner and still learning so much.

    Here’s hoping that you and Sophie have a great 2015 filled with lots of new adventure and experience – all positive of course.



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