I had roast beef for Christmas dinner so had to make up the turkey quotient by going to Turkey over New Year. After a great trad year, a decent amount of training, and plenty of syke, I was hoping to focus on pushing myself and tackling some good challenges. However it turned out to be the least worthwhile trip I've been on in years (ever since the ridiculous "perfect below 0'c winter conditions somehow turning into rain that somehow froze to the rocks" Font debacle of NYE 2007). This was due to a few factors:
Firstly the weather was distinctly mixed / fairly bollox (depending on what one expects). Arrive in a torrential storm, one day of torrential rain, one dryish day, 2 sunny and 1 other dry day, one day of torrential rain and leave after another morning of light rain. That makes for 4 1/2 days climbing, out of which 3 days the conditions were suitable for choosing any route rather than only perma-dry ones.
Secondly I was climbing with a couple and a small child - albeit a very dedicated climbing couple, and I had been warned "oh climbing with them will knacker you out, you'll be doing loads of climbing while they alternate childcare". However it didn't work out like that and was actually climbing as a team of 3 with mixed abilities and sometimes a kid to organise. It took me a while to adjust to that.
Thirdly it was the busiest place I can recall climbing at. The Works on a rainy Sunday?? Pffft, nothing compared to the Sarkit caves on a rainy Saturday. Obviously there was queuing for routes, having to jump on what you can whether you're ready or not, moving the family basecamp around etc. Which might have been fine if it wasn't for the fucking Russians and Ukranians, who where generally a bunch of ill-mannered imbeciles whose response to busy crags was to do laps on routes people were waiting for and set up top-ropes spanning two adjacent routes and then mumble "Yes is busy" as if that is an excuse for selfish behaviour rather than a good reason to be more considerate. Fuck off back to your Eastern Bloc shitholes as far as I am concerned.
All of which meant it was hard to warm up (I spent the first two entire days permanently cold), hard to get any momentum going, hard to get on the right routes at the right time, and hard to fit enough good climbing into shorter days. I ended up doing a few days of reasonable easy mileage and some fun face climbing - okay so F6-anything is pretty much a warm-up / descent / active-rest route, but I ended up doing them swiftly and smoothly enough. Also on the plus side, I got plenty of sleep, didn't get any more tweaky, and ate a fair bit of nice Turkish food that was generally hearty and healthy - so although I didn't progress on the trip, I didn't regress either. A good session at TCA (yup I got back and felt I needed to get training ASAP) last night has confirmed that - decent skin and surprisingly "Not Weak".
The highlight of the trip?? This...
MR DRIBBLE! The guesthouse was festooned with both pampered indoor cats and adequately fed outdoor cats, and as well as Mr Fluff, Ms Pretty Cat, and Tiny Black Cat With A Huge Purr, Mr Dribble was a personal favourite. His evening rounds of going from lap to lap alternated with flopping on the floor and displaying a fine pair of ginger marbles for all to see. Most guests were amused, while I was quite happy to have some cat therapy and didn't even mind him "washing" my climbing wounds with a damp nose (hey the showers were often only luke-warm anyway). He even ended up perched on my hire car the day I left to say goodbye. Well goodbye Mr Dribble, goodbye Turkey (not sure I'd go back unless it was perfect conditions at a quiet time - I can get a much easier generic Euro-lime fix in Spain), hello equally rainy Glasgow and hello more training and hopefully some sneaky days out on sandstone and grit??