The week started well with a trip to Avon for some bold balancy climbing on Krapp's Last Tape and an ab off the nearby ‘Abseil Station’ – which definitely doesn’t merit the title ‘Station’ consisting as it does of old bolts, old rusty snap-gates and some faded tape – but it didn’t fail so I can’t complain!
Down to Anstey’s on Tuesday, the rock was nearly all dry and a cold easterly was blowing bringing with it strong waves, heaps of seaweed and cold fingers to anyone who stood still. The warm up traverse is tucked away from the wind and I did laps on it until I could feel the blood pumping around my body. Feeling suitably warmed up I got on Tuppence, limiting myself to 5 goes on the inital crux before moving on, this allowed me to try the rest of the route with some strength left and not to waste the whole day repeatedly falling off the same move with no noticeable improvement. The middle section felt good and I managed to link the hardest move through to the jug, progress! I played around on the top section trying to figure out a way to do the move before heading back to the ground for a rest.
The next go went well, I found out a way to eyeball the hold above the top crux though I couldn't seem to be able to move any limbs to hold onto it, the route felt a step closer nevertheless.
Third go of the day, just one more crack at the bottom section after this then home. I start off with 5 attempts at the bottom crux then up to the middle crux which I can’t do at this stage of the day as my left hand’s getting tired. The top section still looks like it should work; a few more tries pulling off a small left hand undercut crimp and jumping with my right and I might figure it out.
I pull on, push through my feet and reach out with my right hand when I hear a pop from my left and a line of pain shoots through my hand. For a split-second time stands still and I can see two futures stretching out ahead of me: One of my normal life, climbing every day that I can, getting on Tuppence once a week, trad epics and adventures. The other of injury, pain, weeks or months of rest, rehab, getting weak and frustrated. I slump onto the rope clutching my hand and look up, only one future remains.
The pain is in the ring finger of my overtired left hand, too many weeks of crimping and trying to get stronger have taken its toll. I belay Alexis on Fisherman’s and again on Tuppence where he kindly takes my quickdraws out for me, he doesn’t even claim them as crag swag!
I drive home trying to change gear with my thumb and the depression sets in. It may sound clichéd but climbing is everything to me: it’s the reason why I get out of bed in the morning, the reason why I go to work, the reason why I eat breakfast when it’s far too early to eat anything that isn’t chocolate.
Time passes and the shock fades, I see a doctor who knows little about tendon injuries and a climbing physio friend who knows a lot more, I vow to rest properly and let it heal. I make a list of things I have been meaning to do but never get round to because I’m always climbing and a list of easy slabs to try out some one-handed trad climbing. Life goes on.