Glen Nevis, another zone of usual comfort and maximum inspiration. Another easy mileage day where the easy felt hard and the hard felt incomprehensible despite my colossal personal desire to tackle it. Every time I think about, read about, see one of the challenging routes that inspires me, I want to do them with such a pure passion, but at the same time they just seem incompatible with my current state. It's like not being myself, living as someone else, and being unable to reconcile a true view and a distorted view.
This comes out when I am doing mileage routes - I feel it is something I need to do, should do (see....wrong terms for climbing desire already!) to get back to progressing, but that does not feel right for me. Gym training is horrible BUT it is a means to an end. Indoor wall training is just training but it is fun and means to an end. Climbing is not a means to an end, climbing is the end, an all-encompassing action and activity in it's own right, where the path to progression has as much value as the progression. Thus routes-as-training is valuable only if those routes are intrisically valuable irrespective of the end goal of doing them.
Certainly the few climbs I did were good, one even classic, but not being true inspirations, it felt odd doing them - going through the motions, but not my motions. The motions of a shadow-self - a shadow-self who finds smearing unnerving and discomforting, so definitely related to my normal self!! This was perhaps the best learning of the day, how out of touch I am with different rock types. Too much break-to-break-slam-in-cams of Reiff and Ardmair and not enough hunting for RPs at Creag Dubh nor laybacking up rounded ramps at Polldubh. Viewed in this was, I did get important value out of the day, and a lesson learnt.
Concurrently with the above realisations, I was wondering what is best for me during a low period. One thing that is really helpful is having positive and encouraging friends and partners around me. People who have plenty of syke, people who will include me in their plans, people who will happily get me out there and get me involved, people who will recognise when climbing feels difficult and be supportive and understanding, people who will be part of a general good atmosphere of sociability and climbing enthusiasm.
Alas in Scotland this still feels a long way away. Two of my better friends are now parents and very restricted with time. Other friends make very positive noises about getting out climbing but then always seem to be vague to me and then arrange things with other partners. For the day I ended up at Glen Nevis, I had specifically arranged to climb with a regular friend, who had texted me the evening before to acknowledge the plan and suggest somewhere in the Central Highlands, and then texted me shortly after to say he was climbing in the Cairngorms instead - no explanation, no reason to let me down, and no reply to txts nor a phone call asking what was going on. This is hardly a good atmosphere of sociability and climbing enthusiasm!! Thankfully I found someone new at the last minute, but it does show how external odds can be stacked against me, and I'm not sure what I can do about that. Keep banging my head against the wall of txt/msg silence, and keep finding strangers rather than friends to climb with?? And keep fighting my low climbing ebb on my own, I guess...