Monday, 9 January 2012

Dawn Missions

It’s 6:30am and my alarm wakes me up with an unnecessarily cheery tune. For a second complete confusion reigns, I have no idea what day it is or what I’m supposed to be doing, no daylight creeps through the curtains convincing me that it’s still night. The word ‘climbing’ permeates through the fog in my brain encouraging me to get out of bed and get dressed, in the cold dark I layer on clothes to make up for the warmth of the duvet.

Breakfast eaten and tea drunk and I’m on the road, headlights cutting a swathe through the winter morning darkness. The roads are quiet and the dance tunes on the radio help to wake me up. The reason for this early morning activity is simple; I work four days in a row but don’t start work ‘til midday and I don’t want to go without climbing for four days. The answer – dawn missions; if I arrive at the crag at first light I can get a decent session in before work and finding a partner for such an ungodly hour is no trouble as Alexis is just as keen/stupid. We meet at the car park at 7:30, shoulder our packs and walk to the crag in the half-light. Our destination (as ever) is Anstey’s Cove where even a short session is bound to be exhausting.

The crag is quiet and still, a beautiful place to be at any time but all the more so this morning. In the cold air my duvet jacket reminds me too much of its namesake and I’m loathed to take it off, instead I warm-up wearing it feeling like the Michelin Man with about as much co-ordination. The sun sits like a ball of gold above the sea turning the wispy clouds pink, it brings comfort but no actual warmth at this time in the morning. We’ve been here on early-morning missions in the summer when it’s too hot to climb by 9am and in the autumn when drizzle and rain makes the whole idea of climbing a challenge. Today however, on this cold crisp morning it feels perfect: a sunrise in a bright blue sky, a wood pigeon cooing and the sound of the waves drifting up from far below on the gentle breeze.

The moves on Tuppence feel as hard as ever but I’m climbing and I can’t bring myself to care. My fingers slowly warm up and my muscles wake up, I link moves that I’ve linked before and fall off moves that I’ve fallen off before. As I sit on the rope, my back slowly being warmed by the sun, I can see clouds moving in to cover its brightness but for now it’s just perfect.

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