This was the reward after a good day’s work, climbing with a colleague, Martin, on warm dry limestone on Wenlock Edge.
The first route was an exploration, we set up a top-rope and struggled with the overhanging start, the crux moves of the route. My arms were pumped in the first five minutes, though I made it through to the top. Martin, a better and stronger climber than me, also concluding that more work was needed to be ready to lead this one.
I finished by leading up an easy short route, simply enjoying the process of balancing, choosing a sequence of moves, placing protection, rising step by step above the graceful ash trees to look out over the western part of Shropshire, towards the sinking sun.
I felt calm, alert and relaxed. On the descent back to collect rucksacks, I realised that it was this state, this feeling of calm and balance on a rock face, that is really the reason I climb. It’s not the intense, and tense, adrenaline “rush” that I’ve felt in some situations, it’s far better, far deeper than that.
It’s really like feeling in tune with something, an undertone barely heard for all the other, louder, noise, a steady, clear note that leaves me feeling uplifted and aware, feet on the ground and clean air in my lungs; alive, able to deal with whatever is happening, fully in the present.