Sometimes even failure is progress.

After months of turning up, just turning up, training, climbing, hoping something will change…months of hearing motivational phrases;

It’s not a breakdown – it’s a breakthrough
Just keep turning up and progress will happen
Pain is weakness leaving the body

Months of nothing but frustration, confusion, anger, sadness.

Too many times sitting in the car on the way home have I thought…that’s it, I’m done, I’m never going to get any better.

Looking at the climb, knowing I can do it…giving up before or halfway through because I’m afraid.

Failure after failure after failure. Everything affected how I climbed, the music, the people around, the food in my belly, the tea I did – or did not drink, the tshirt, the shoes…the knowledge I COULD do it, the belief that I could not.

Months of waiting to get to the point where I said…fuck it, I can’t do this anymore, I can’t keep giving up, moving from self loathing to anger

In that one moment I advanced three grades, just by being fucking angry.

My casual coach had told me that I needed to find the anger, channel the energy away from frustration and disappointment. I never thought it would come.

One, glorious week of progress.

And it is back again. A new benchmark of failure. A new grade to be angry I am not climbing.

Knowing that all this failure is progress

And that my frustration is fear leaving the body.

I’ve heard that my next lesson is patience.




I remember the day that it felt like magic and I flowed across rock, no fear, with joy. Afterwards I fell, crushing my solid foundations, destroying the mental and physical strength I’d just begun to develop.

Instead of building a solid foundation again I rushed forward to try and *catch up* to get *somewhere* *anywhere* that wasn’t where I was stuck.

Cracked toes, neck injury, dislocated fingers, months and weeks off climbing and I would run back straight afterwards to the gym, the wall, the rock, ignoring the pain or the mental difficulties, forcing myself to fall and jump and pull hard.

Somehow I made progress, I began to feel comfortable again began moving through the grades, began to feel more comfortable taking falls and then I got injured again.

I had to take the two months off before going to el chorro because I injured a finger tendon. I arrived in El Chorro for a two week climbing trip, psyched and driven.

Instead of spending the first week building up my grade and taking falls I took a back seat as we were climbing in a three, when the third left I decided to start projecting a climb on top rope, working out the hardest moves I’d ever climbed.

The last week was spent doing this (alternating with resting whilst belaying my climbing partner) until my last day came. After not leading a whole lot for the whole trip I got on the hardest route I had ever climbed and tried to push it. Unsurprisingly the world tumbled around me, the weak foundation crumbled and I failed. Too long spent looking forward instead of enjoying where I was, too much hoping and not enough stopping and looking around.

I was more than upset, I was decimated. I spent the night wondering whether I should just give up climbing altogether, whether I should quit my job in the climbing wall and the city and get a job in an office somewhere and pretend I didn’t care, thankfully I am more prone to melodramatic statements than I am to melodramatic acts and instead I decided to think a little longer!

I have to wash my foundations away, strip away the scrappy scaffolding and start again. Somehow find out where I *am* and enjoy if for a while before I start moving forward again.

And now a courtesy *normal* trip report…el chorro was hot and cold, wet and dry. the rock was stunning, Makindromo was breathtaking, the finca was full of smokers and the showers were cold, the train station cafe was like an episode of Eastenders only with tasty tortilla and tea, if I go again I will change only a few things.