So it begins again. It’s amazing how a year can pass quite so quickly, especially when it involves early mornings, accounting lectures, and driving between two homes every week. But sure enough, my life at London Business School is over. I’d hoped to keep a blog detailing the experience, the highs and lows of business school, from sordid staff affairs to cutting edge seminar discussions, but unfortunately I was lazy and none of that stuff ever happened. I will be writing my thoughts on business school and in particular LBS once I have graduated and have that oh so valuable piece of paper in my hands.

To mark the revival of the blog I will share with you a snippet of a conversation that took place just yesterday, which most readers should understand as a seismic shift in my current state of play;

Protagonist walks into a barbershop, sits down to wait his turn. He stares in the mirror, looks deep within himself, and the decision is made.
“Hi mate, how you doing?”
“I’m fine thanks, and yourself?”
“Good man, good. So, what can I do for you today? Just a tidy up, or something else entirely?”
“Short on the sides, longer at the back, and take some length off the top. You know, a Mullet”
“Sound mate”

Several weeks ago, when I was deciding upon a celebration plan for termination, sorry, completion of my Masters I faced 2 very good choices. They were somewhat distinct too, each having a number of facets which shouted “pick me”. The first option was to fly south to South Africa, discovering Rocklands for the first time, and spending 4 weeks bouldering in an area I’d wanted to go to for at least 6 years. It was a strong candidate. But so was option 2. Fly West to Vancouver, Canada, and have 4 weeks of… of…. Well, this is where the two paths diverge. In Canada I would be able to go hiking, biking, trad climbing, sport climbing, bouldering, and see an amazing city or two. I did spend quite a while flip flopping between the two choices and it forced me to ask myself some rather tough questions. The biggest of these was “Am I still a real climber?”. If I had been given this choice 3 years ago I think I would have plumped for SA in a heartbeat. Or would I? I know what I like in a climbing venue and peace, tranquillity, and beauty are all essential. That’s why I love places like Brione. The other thing which weighed heavily on my mind was my condition. I’m not in good shape, as anyone who has seen me climb recently can testify to. What would it be like to go to Rocklands and be a punter for 4 weeks? Frustrating. Well, it would be amazing too, but it would ultimately be hard for me to look at a hold and hear my mind telling me jug and my body telling me impossible. Then I began to understand what the choice was about and it was then that I arrived at an instant decision. Rocklands would be full of climbers, bristling with pads, with talk of sick moves and displays of heroic strength. Canada would be devoid of all that. Canada would be an adventure. I would be going further out of my comfort zone, experiencing new sensations and this resonated deep within me.

I realised I was seeking adventure, not another hard bloc. Does that mean I’ve changed? I don’t know. I like climbing hard because it’s hard and because I like climbing. I’ve yet to find something else which feels as good as climbing. But I think I am beginning to see it in a more holistic vision. Climbing is a part of me but it doesn’t need to dominate everything. That’s why I am sat here at Gatwick South terminal staring at a departure board which says “Vancouver – Delayed 2 hours”.

My decision revolved around wanting climbing to be part of a greater adventure. Climbing every day and doing nothing else is cool, I’ve been there and done that. But now I’m in a different place. If I can go downhill biking in Whistler one day, trad climbing the day after, bouldering the day after, and then swimming in a river the day after that then I’m going to be chuffed to bits. I am looking forward to that variety. I’m looking forward to seeing a rugged landscape, to not having as close an encounter with a bear as I did last time I was in North America, and to just being able to be a bit wild (in the sense of wilderness).

This question of am I still a real climber does plague me a bit. I suppose it’s a stupid question to ask in some ways, in many ways, but it does make me wonder about what I am still willing to give to climbing and what I want out of it. I do want to climb hard things. Really hard things. But do I want them more than anything else in the world? I don’t think so, not anymore.

When I get back from Canada I’m going straight into the world of work, in a sphere so far removed from anything that has come before. I’m excited about that. It’s a new challenge. And if there’s one thing I can be sure of, it’s the fact that I love a challenge. So the next 4 weeks will be my last taste of freedom, of wilderness, and of adventure for a little while. Oddly enough, the real challenge will begin when I get back. Have I finally understood what a holiday is for? Or worse, have I finally reached the point where I need a holiday?