Chattanooga – Tennessee
Two days before leaving for the states I was having a chilled climbing session, setting and trying some hard boulder problems. I felt good and not too weak after all the food over Christmas. I felt strong and psyched. Then right at the end of my session I heard a little noise and my finger began to throb instantly. Devastated! It was the holidays and there was no chance of seeing a physio and before I knew it I was on the plane with very mixed feelings about leaving home.
I thought I had had my share of injuries for 2012 but I guess this is to be my first of 2013 and hopefully I will get injuries out of the way nice and early.
I hadn’t thought much about my trip to America at all. I knew where I was flying to and that I was going to be living in a spaceship but that was about it. I had no clue where we would be climbing or what the style was. The trip came around so quickly with Christmas being so busy but I found myself in the familiar surroundings of Manchester Airport once again leaving the rainy UK behind. The plane journey was not the best. I love children but being stuck next to a baby who cries for hours on end did not add to the comforts of the plane. After a delay in Philadelphia I arrived in Atlanta where a very kind friend of mine, Kevin, was waiting to pick me up with pink lemonade and whole foods cookies to hand… Legend!
We are actually living in this house!!!
I hadn’t seen dry rock for weeks in England and I was itching to get out and see what the Chattanooga area (where I was actually staying) had to offer. Blue skies, dense forrest and endless blocks of perfect sandstone… safe to say it’s bliss out here! I would describe the rock as a cross between font and the grit but DRY! It is super sticky and full of incredible lines. With my finger taped up I was off to test out my fear of climbing above pads. I was limited to what I could climb as anything crimpy was way too painful but there’s so much to go at that it didn’t matter at all. On day one I was very cautious of my finger but I just wanted to climb everything and holding back was hard! I did a few boulders including a really fun V10 called Biggie Shortie, a scary V9 called Bed Wetter and a few classics including The Wave V5 and Deception V7. Both beautiful lines and totally different styles of climbing. There was one boulder I wanted to try more than anything else. The Shield, it is an amazing line of creases up a smooth face. It was pretty much the only boulder I knew of in the area before coming out and it was hard.
I am not the type of person who refuses to climb anything easy and only wants to get on hard climbs but I really enjoy pushing myself and trying hard moves. I was also really psyched about testing my new strengths gained from training. I had seen videos of people climbing The Shield and walked past admiring it so many times. I felt so ready to get on it myself. So I have done some damage to a pulley in my ring finger on my left hand. It had been hurting but not too much but The Shield was not going to give me any sympathy. In fact I think I offended the boulder by trying it as it fought back and won making my finger worse.
I have been climbing for 15years and I still don’t know how to listen to my body. Knowing when to stop and rest is not as easy as it sounds as I am sure many of you will have experienced this. I guess the temptations of dry rock and perfect lines was too much for me and now I am stuck icing my finger and reading my book and watching friends pursue their projects. It is new for me to observe outside. I haven’t spent much time climbing on rock at all and when I have I have usually been really psyched and oblivious to other peoples approaches. It can be refreshing to be in a familiar surrounding but taking a new perspective. If you read my blog about Munich World Cup 2012 it is a very similar situation once again.
I took a few days off. Total rest! Filled with pancakes, baking and pizza to lift some spirits. Injuries, bad skin and coming painfully close to projects has left us all in need of some baked goods 🙂
I usually go to areas to try and climb hard because that’s what I love but now I get to enjoy climbing the classics. It is easy to let frustration and anger get the better of you. At first all I wanted to do was feel sorry for myself. But it is time to embrace the slopers and open handed holds (work on some weaknesses) and enjoy being in a world class bouldering area and not being in the rain. Little Rock City, Rock Town and Horsepens 40 are amazing places to hold back and take things easy. And maybe my finger will heal up and I can try and climb something harder towards the end of the trip. But no more pushing it for me!