I guess the blog isn’t dead just yet. If anything, this is exactly what it’s for, an outpouring of thought. I’ve been reading and re-reading a book called L’Etranger by Albert Camus (which I first read 8/9 years ago) whilst really trying to find more and more in it. I came accross this quote by Camus, in another text, which I think is so accurate and pertinent to the process of climbing in my life that I need to share it.

“the great work of art has less significance in itself than the ordeal that it demands of the man and the opportunity which it provides him of overcoming his phantoms and approaching a little closer to his naked reality.”

In this sense, climbing is a great work of Art. On the other hand, climbing is only a particular representation of Art, which people choose because it is more enjoyable than all the other options. There is nothing inherently spiritual or mystical about climbing, it’s just a physical activity that we all happen to love. Alex Huber said it best in a Petzl video when he described it simply as “I just like climbing you know, it’s a matter of fact, just like the apes run around the trees, we like to run around the rocks but it’s nothing spiritual about climbing, it’s just enjoying being out there. It’s nothing special about climbing”.

Essentially reaching the top of a rock via a certain line is a meaningless act, the meaning comes from exactly what Camus describes, the journey of overcoming your phantoms, of facing your fears, and trying to confront them. When I was in the Frankenjura with Rich a few years ago he told me he wasn’t scared of failure. He didn’t care if he failed to do Action Direct, as long as he tried his hardest. He said he wouldn’t be disappointed with failure, because he had trained as hard he (or any other human) could. He just wanted to give it his best, and this is what he did, which was good enough for him to reach the top.

Rich also left me with one piece of advice that I’ve never forgotten, and that I constantly remind myself of, “until you quit, success is always on the cards”.