I hate when people start blog entries with lines such as “It’s been a long time” or “It’s been ages since I’ve been on here”, so I’ll spare you the rage and simply say “errr, well, I don’t know. I haven’t posted in ages and I’m not entirely sure why. That’s the truth”. One thing is for certain, change has been abundant in my life.

The last time I wrote anything beyond 4 lines I was in Innsbruck, enjoying the amazing powder that seemed to suddenly arrive just when it was needed. My boarding was going really well and early April provided some of the very best days of the season with a load of powder opening up opportunities for proper all mountain riding. I was psyched, but it wasn’t all sweet scented roses.

I was overjoyed that my mysterious hand injury disappeared overnight, but this was balanced with the fact that I couldn’t use my body to climb because it was in pain from my snowboard crash. Most moves would hurt and I felt so weak in the body. My hands and fingers did feel ok though, which was the positive aspect I was holding on to.

Since my crash back in March, I haven’t actually recovered. The initial breathing problems subsided, but I still had pain in my chest, lower back, and neck. I’ve been injured before and I know that given enough time the pain goes away and your body fixes itself. It’s an amazing thing the human body, and perhaps I haven’t given it the respect it deserves.

Now, over 2 months on, I still have to take pain killers to sleep at night. I’ve seen 2 Doctor’s, been told to just “see how it goes”, seen an Osteopath who couldn’t really tell exactly what was wrong or why it was wrong, and also seen a Sports Injury Therapist who I have no doubt is working wonders on my body but the original problem isn’t changing. My body is clearly in some fubar’d state, and I can’t find anyone who seems to know anything about the symptoms I have. During the day, the pain is manageable, with only specific rotational movements of my chest causing sharp pain in my ribs. However, upon lying down the pain spreads instantly. Lying down on a hard surface causes instant pain in my lower back, my chest, and depending on the position, my neck. As you can guess, this makes it hard to sleep and most of us generally try to sleep lying down. Well, I used to anyway. Recently, I’ve had to sleep sitting upright on the sofa as the pain from lying down is too great… even after taking prescription strength painkillers. It’s ridiculous.

The worst part of it is that it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. I’m just living with this pain. Every night I go to sleep and know that I’m probably going to wake up in the early hours either in an amount of pain I can just about tolerate, or in agony and thus be forced to sit upright and try to sleep. I am getting sick of it to be honest. I just want to be well again, to climb at my hardest, and to “feel my body move” (without pain). I don’t know what I’m going to do to get there, because I seem to have tried a lot of avenues. I think the next move is another hospital visit and a scan that may tell me more than an x-ray.

There has been more change occurring, beyond going from a pain free to a pain managed lifestyle. Towards the middle of last month I packed up my car and made my peace with Innsbruck, then drove away from the Alps for the final time. The decision to leave has been a complex one, with a lot of shifts in my life pushing me down new paths. Life is an interesting beast, and just when you think you can see a way forward you’re propelled at c toward an entirely different goal. At the end of the day

I never do too well when I’m not challenged, and perhaps it was this lack of challenge since releasing Between the Trees that has prompted me to undertake a new adventure. I guess I’m a bit reticent to disclose all the details, but I do know that if each piece falls into place and life once again deals me AA preflop then I’ll have good news to write home about. I’ll know soon enough. An attitude which I think I have been raised with is that of being able to detach attachment from desire. Sometimes I think I really want and must travel down a certain path, but then it all appears to go wrong and at some point down the line I realise that the big wrong was actually a big right. Perhaps this is some psychological condition of convincing oneself that it’s all working out ok, but I’m certain that I’ve had every major life decision propel me down an amazing path. I’m hoping that regardless of what happens in the next few weeks, I’ll be propelled down some amazing path (one of which I can see and one of which has yet to be revealed!).

Since being back in England I’ve been mainly climbing at The Climbing Academy in Bristol, as well as the surrounding areas. It’s a major shift from the granite of the Zillertal, but look hard enough anywhere and you’ll find something cool. Proust was right. I’ve done some cool routes and some bad ones, realised I still can’t pull on small holds but that movement can sometimes get you through, and also gained a little bit of power endurance. I’ve done very little pure power bouldering as there is nothing really hard down at the wall (well, there wasn’t until a team setting session forged new ground), so I’m not sure where the max level resides. The other reason is that my body still isn’t up to it… I’ve got my project for the summer lined up now, black pinches, pockets, and undercuts up a steep board. Back to the old school (R.I.P). In fact, one of the best problems in the school was a black pinchy thing… ok, I better not start to reminisce. There are also a few choice routes on real rock (I know, shock horror) that are going to see a bit of my attention if all goes well… mainly the classic sport routes that Ian Vickers dismayingly crushed many moons ago. The more I learn about climbing the more I find that dismays me.

So here I am, stood before a fork in the road. It’s all looking exciting in every direction, so I’m holding nothing back and pushing on forward. As ever, I’m intrigued as to where I’ll end up.

680. 6.0.