It was 8.30am on a Sunday and my phone was bleeping an ear-splitting bleep to wake me up, unfortunately I was being woken up in a crowded living room with other ears to be split. I picked up my clothes in a stumbling round of the room, finding my jumper underneath the dead-weight of Darren's head. Walking out into Stoke-Newington it was very quiet and the morning breeze funneled down my sleeves as I buttoned up my jacket. It had been a heavy night and what had started as a Facebook status starting 'fuck Shoreditch' was now ending with an apologetic journey back to the east side seeking peace with an offended cousin. She was right to be annoyed as I am a northern charlatan and swathes of my family have resided or do reside in London.
I met Lucy at the Georgian restaurant for their traditional breakfast, she told me about her factory living and the eco-horsebox-cafe. I couldn't taste the food as I was so dehydrated, I took big swills of water which sloshed in my mouth around the food and made me feel queasy. Lucy's friend Silvia walked up and sat with us, she was an artist from Switzerland with frizzy brown hair and a piece involving redpointing. Silvia explained how her friend had described a route to her move by move, she had then replicated the movement by dragging her body across a smooth floor in complete darkness. The viewers would each carry a light source, a torch or candle, and track her progress in this blackened room. I don't know the reason my mind dwells on this piece, maybe it was because I never got to see it or maybe it was the romanticism of the seemingly robotic act of pre-practised sport routes.
Last year I had a protracted affair with the route 'Powerplant' on the Cheedale Cornice, a grubby cliff festooned with undercuts and burly movement. On first acquaintance I had dismissed the roof section of the crag as just too different to the veritical and crimpy climbing style I had gravitated towards in recent years, A friend was on it it so I put my insecurities aside and tried it. Skipping forward half a dozen sessions I was redpointing but struggling with the beta I had stubbornly stuck with. It was a simple foot movement explained to me by Ben Heason to take me from no-chance to might-just-do-it. It was a late-season Sunday afternoon on a near deserted crag that I set off, the presumptuous bottle of Sierra Nevada I'd brought with me cooling in the River Wye below. I clipped the chains and screamed first in the affirmative, then just one single loud expletive, lowering down I hugged Jo and apologised to the other climbers for swearing. I sat down and began unwrapping the kneepad, ever so slightly shivering muttering to myself "I never thought I'd ever do this", my eyes welled up but I held it at the brink and didn't burst with pride. The route is over. It took 13 sessions spread across week-nights, week-ends to and, but for one session, I enjoyed every minute.
Spring has sprung and the clocks are changing, it's time to start dragging myself across the floor again. Friends, other climbers and time itself will hold little bits of light and come close to me every now and then. When enough of them have gathered i'll be able to see where I'm going, it will be Supercool.
- Guy Van Greuning