If you love climbing as much as I do then I'm sure at some point along the way you've been labelled as being ‘Obsessive About Climbing’. When this happens my defences kick in and I retaliate saying it’s a passion, not an obsession! But am I just kidding myself? An obsession: where your thoughts or feelings are dominated by something, or a passion: in which you feel a powerful or compelling emotion towards something. And where does climbing slot in, with it taking most of our evenings a week, plus optimally the whole weekend, and of course every holiday has got include at least some climbing, if not the whole thing?
I started climbing 13 years ago during my 3rd year of university. 3 months later I did my first climbing trip to Waterval Boven (Mpumalanga, South Africa). After that life was never the same again, I was hooked :) Since then climbing has always been a part of my life. Sure there have been down times, long periods where I didn't get to climb because of studying, working, moving house, moving city, moving country. There have been times when I've had no soul for climbing after a heart sore breakup, no body for climbing due to injury, or no head for climbing due to mental fatigue. But the passion is there, or comes back, and just seems to get bigger and bigger.
I've struggled with a back injury for the past 4 1/2 years - a year out from any sport at all, back into climbing for a bit, 3 months out, back in, another 3 months out, back in, back surgery (discectomy), a year out again, and now finally I'm back in, and this time let’s hope it’s for good! The reason I mention this is because it feels like each time climbing is taken away from me the passion merely gets stronger and pulls harder. And when I do get back to climbing I want to do it more often, with more intensity, and better than before. I think this is partly because when something is suddenly taken away from you against your will, you realize how much it really meant to you.
This year I've upped my game a bit and have been a lot more focused on training and nutrition. I got selected into the GB climbing team and am keen to do some comps (am competing in the World Champs in Arco next week), and would like to get a personal best on rock. Taking a moment to reflect on this year so far, its involved 2 intensive 3-month training programmes, fairly strict eating patterns throughout (because there's always a competition "just around the corner"), getting out on rock whenever there is a free weekend (which seems to be so hard to come by), and not much time for anything else ... mmmm, maybe it is an obsession!
But to be elite in any sport I think you need to be pretty focused, so I reckon a bit of obsessiveness is not such a bad thing. It's all about getting the balance right :)
One of my first days on rock (1998) ............... On a recent 8a project (2011)
Waterval Boven, Mpumalanga, South Africa: