Now I am 19

I wasn’t expecting to do very well at the climbing wall today; with less than three hours sleep before we got up this morning, and only an hour snatched when I went home early, incapable of thought, I wasn’t really set up for success. So I was a bit intimidated when we went straight to one of the harder walls.

And then I climbed a 14 on my first attempt. And a 15. And a 16.

Then I had to try a 19. This was a difficult one: a big convex hold for your right hand without much to grip onto, and a tiny grip for your left hand. My feet were on a pair of little holds, and then I had to sweep my right hand up and pinch something the shape of a brick, stuck vertically to the wall. I heaved myself up that, went for the hold above it, held on tight, scrabbled my legs up, and tried to reach the final hold, invisible behind a big blue floater.

I scrambled for it, felt my left hand’s grip fail, and fell ignominously off, just as a small crowd had assembled below to shout encouragement.

I gave it a few minutes to recover, then had a second go. This time, I got both my hands onto the big vertical pinch, and clung to it, bringing my legs up so I could crouch and straighten my arms, get my breath back, and then make the final move. When I descended, I was amazed at myself – this is hardly Charlie Big Potatoes but given my goal for this half was to get to climb a 20, and I’m now incredibly close with a month to go, I’ve really got close to exceeding my ambitions.

So now, arms and legs wobbly (when I’d done this, I had a warm down of 13s and 14s,which would have been my maximum only a few weeks ago) and then I was done. Not bad on less than four hours sleep.

Or maybe it was the guilt powering me to punish myself. After we had thought my wife had dodged the 4-stop Calgary switcher op, I was aghast to discover today that actually, her non stop flight to Toronto still stops at Calgary. I did say Air Canada love to screw with your mind…

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