Time to break the silence
Last November my boyfriend and I set out on an adventure to the USA. Travelling around America in a camper van is the idea of a dream holiday for many people and something I had wanted do for quite a while. I didn’t exactly expect to be doing it in the middle of winter and I guess some part of me longed to do the touristy sight seeing bits but more than anything I wanted to climb. We spent weeks looking through guide books of the areas we were incredibly excited to visit. We watched videos of famous boulder problems that we couldn’t wait to see. And we had quizzed friends on where to park up at night, where to take showers and of course the best places to get good burgers and doughnuts. We were prepared for our first big climbing trip and camper van adventure.
A couple of weeks before leaving I was in an intense training phase. I felt stronger and fitter than ever before. Until about a week before I was due to leave that is. That’s when my finger started hurting. Not just a little bit. Quite a lot. I saw everyone I could and got as many opinions as possible but no one could be sure what was wrong with it. So there I was heading for a dream trip to the USA unsure if I could even pull on.
My holiday was actually a long, hard, emotional battle. I arrived at the boulders on day one naive and optimistic. I taped up my finger and put my shoes on. I knew exactly what to expect but I thought that maybe, just maybe it was going to be okay. No. No it wasn’t. The moment I put my hands on the rock I was certain I wasn’t really going to be able to climb. My finger hurt before my feet had even left the ground. The pain triggered frustration, the frustration triggered tears. And there I was. At a World class bouldering destination sat on a mat in a grump. Unfortunately, this was a familiar theme of the trip. Day two only added to my grumpy mood as our van was broken into. On Thanksgiving of all days too. The first two days really did set the tone of what was about to be one of the most challenging and disheartening holidays we have ever experienced.
I had to make a quick journey back home mid trip for an exciting event. A break away from the frustration and disappointment was exactly what I needed. Sometimes I feel like I am living someone else’s life. Flying back from Vegas to a red carpet event in London. That does not sound like my life at all. Yet there I was at the BT Sport Studios surrounded by cameras, lights and famous athletes, following an important looking lady with a clip board and a radio to hair and make up. The effects of 20 hours of traveling together with jet lag made me feel a little dazed. Or maybe that was the champagne? I hadn’t appreciated how just a few weeks living in a van in the desert had effected me. Brittle hair, dry skin, dirty clothes. To begin with I definitely felt out of my comfort zone. My ability with make up stretches little past mascara and to be honest I even struggle to put that on without getting it everywhere. My experience with hair goes no further than hair straighteners and I seldom put in that much effort. The ladies working in hair and make up gave me a new appreciation for the wonders that can be done. It really is an art. In a mere 20 minutes I was totally transformed. I’m not about to invest in the countless brushes and powders or learn how to do what they did with my hair but it was so much fun to sample a World I had spent so many years totally oblivious to. The night was a wonderful success and I was incredibly happy to have my coach, Mark, by my side. I was amazed that I had received a nomination for this award alongside some of the greatest sports women the UK has ever seen. It was an honour to be representing our sport at such a prestigious event. To place second is a true reflection of the strength and sense of community in climbing.
During my brief time back in the UK I also had a very exciting meeting at Red Bull UK HQ. With my bag packed full with lots of new Red Bull headwear I started my journey back to the USA. I was greeted at Salt Lake City airport by a freshly injured Ned. He’d spent some time climbing on the gems hidden away in Little Cotton Wood Canyon whilst I was jet setting. Our bad luck had struck again. I considered that it was just a sympathy injury (same hand as me, same finger) but he disagreed… Despite our ailments we continued our trip. It went a little bit like this: rain, snow, hail, frost, mist, fog, snow, snow, rain, fog. So much for the glorious weather in Joe’s Valley. We did get a few hours of blue sky here and there but they were few and far between. We also had a mouse infestation. A heads up to any fellow campers, mice love merino wool. So not only did they eat all of our food and keep us awake they also got our best thermals too! Oh and then Ned dislocated his ankle.
Seriously. This all happened. It seems almost comical thinking back now. It did not feel that way at the time though. Especially when we got to the magical land of Bishop. I couldn’t fight the temptation. I had to climb. Pretty soon after that I HAD to stop climbing. Why can’t I just be sensible and smart. Ned limped his way to the boulders, squeezed on his shoe, attempted to pull on and found himself sat on the pad next to me wondering the exact same thing. Tired of being upset and angry we knew that it was time to go home.
I didn’t want to write about my experience until I had got everything sorted with my finger and processed it fully. Being injured sucks. Everyone knows that. It’s easier to reflect back on this experience now that my finger is strong and I am feeling fit and psyched. Lots of scans, rehab and physiotherapy later that is. Sometimes life just generally doesn’t go your way and it can be really hard to stay psyched and positive during these times. However, it’s keeping a smile on your face, dealing with these situations and recovering from injuries that will make you stronger and happier in the long run.
I was reluctant to post about my trip to America. I didn’t want to have good long moan about my holiday. I went away for 5 weeks and saw some incredible sights whilst hanging out with my favourite person in the world. We endured all of the bad luck that was thrown at us and came out with a good story in the end.
So… my apologies for taking so long to fill you in on my adventures. As well as training my butt off and getting my fingers strong quite a lot has been happening. I organised an event with Beastmaker back in January The Bestamaker International Footless Festival. It was so much fun and we have already started making plans for 2016. I also competed in a few UK comps and of course the CWIF too. I took my 4th title at CWIF which was a great confidence boost. It’s always an amazing event to help get back into the swing of things. World class boulder problems, energetic crowd and tough competition. I also went on holiday to Namibia. I have now booked my flights for the World Cups and I have busy few months ahead. Plans have also started for the 2015 Women’s Climbing Symposium. It’s a busy, full, happy time at the moment.
In two weeks time I will be competing in the European Championships. Towards the end of last year I had some big challenges to face. Injuring my rota cuff, my ankle and my finger. Each injury has taught me so much about my body and my mind. I am thankful for these experiences. I am a stronger athlete because of them. Let’s see what 2015 can throw at me!
Good luck to all of you suffering from injuries and all of you on climbing trips having bad luck. Push through!
Bt Sport Action Woman Of The Year Award Ceremony
Climbing a V0 in Joe’s Valley