We look forward to the sunsets, the early morning starts, the weather forecasts. We press our noses against the cold glass and peer into the rain. With ripped jeans, shredded fingers and tattered guidebooks we walk the line between obsession and madness. We take a gamble, risk it all and enjoy the fight.
Searching for perfection. We share a dirty secret; we know about the experiences to be had out there. Beyond the city lights, the constant noise and the end of the road. Out there, beneath the sun and the stars. We’ll make the sacrifices in life, wake up in the dirt and put on the coffee.
Climbing, walking, mountaineering... we’re all part of the same family. We get our kicks from reaching the summits, finding the limits, pushing too far. We enjoy the out-of-doors lifestyle as our form of meditation, escape, release.
Our stories of success. When he shook out below the crux for ages, climbing up and down, up and down, getting even more tired. We knew he was going to fall: he was exhausted. There was no way he should’ve made it but somehow he slapped, screamed and pulled his way upwards, over the top. Where did that strength come from? How we laughed and celebrated that night.
And failures, too. Who can forget the routes we’ve failed on? Falling, lowering off, being rescued... I didn’t enjoy being hit in the face by my gear, ripping out as I fell past. Scars remind me of the falls, remind me to try harder next time. But at least we got on them; routes that have been ‘saved for another day’ circle in my head. Demons, quietly brewing, waiting for their moment.
Our gestures at the bottom of the cliffs. Guidebooks held open like sacred texts, fingers trace the words before we glance up at the rock, pointing and waving. ‘That roof is there, which means this groove is here. Simple.’ I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve gone off route.
We are obsessed with the weather and conditions. Is it greasy? Is it dry? A change of forecast, of clouds in the sky, a change of heart. We can’t climb unless it’s cool, we can’t rest unless it’s raining. We like to think the conditions make all the difference - don’t you know how important the humidity is? Weeks planned around tides, entire trips changed because the internet says so. Don’t worry though, it never rains in Pembroke... except when I visit.
As the light fades and the sky turns pink and orange, we sit in the grass and soak in the view. We talk about the routes, the moves and the holds. Chalky hands above our heads, we open and close sliding windows, miming a vertical dance. We share our stories. Sometimes all it takes is a knowing look and a laugh. ‘Yeah, I’ve taken the ride!’
Thanks to Tom Livingstone for the words and images. Tom joins Jöttnar’s Pro Team and we welcome him warmly on board. You can read his full bio here.
Click here for his website.