What’s Harder, Big Walls or Bouldering?

Jackie on an arete at Bowden Doors in December.
Jackie on an arete at Bowden Doors in December.

We spent a lot of time preparing ourselves for getting up El Capitan, but didn’t spend a moment considering what the emotional come down would be like once the whole thing was over. Andy Kirkpatrick does a pretty concise job of describing the feeling (although he soloed an A4… it’s all relative I guess) he says on the wall you’re made into superman, then all of a sudden you have to be normal again. And that’s pretty much how it feels.

I think about what Jackie and I did every day, and what we’ll do next too. But in the meantime I’ve been doing my best to get psyched for what I can look forward to in the near future, and it’s very different from big walling but I’m enjoying it anyway… bouldering… inside (mostly)!

At the TCA Redpoint comp in January.
At the TCA Redpoint comp in January.

That’s right. It took a few weeks to remember how to boulder at all, (lots of people asked, ‘aren’t you really strong after Yosemite? And the answer was kind of, but not for bouldering… as you can see…) I’ve always had a turbulent relationship with bouldering, I get a bit better, then I regress, then I improve a tiny bit… then I get worse… and so on. The bottom line is I’m not very good at it but I’m keen to get better. Al has given me a very simple training program  that is definitely producing subtle but satisfying results. Basically, introducing regular pull-up exercises and core routines is making me climb a bit better, funny how that works eh? I think what doing El Cap has taught me (within climbing at least) is that training for something specific can be really, really rewarding. I mean our training for El cap was largely useless but we were focused on it, and I think that feeling might be quite addictive. So now I have new goals and am pretty intent on achieving them again, hopefully they won’t take a whole week to execute this time.



I’ve been out a little over the winter so far, with one amazing day at Bowden Doors in Northumberland and a few too-freezing ones for me also. Here’s a couple of shots of Al and Alan on Night Rider at Carrock Fell this weekend. For me, as the sun disappeared, so did my psyche unfortunately and I went to the car for a nap.

The ultimate spotters!
The ultimate spotters!


Happily for me (I’m a bit nervous though…) I get to relive our time in Yosemite on the 6th and 7th of February when I’ll be giving a talk and screening Push It at The Women’s Climbing Symposium Road Show in Sheffield as part of SHAFF’s Expert Night and at The Climbing Hangar in Liverpool the night before. If you’d told me two years ago when I was jobless, penniless and hopeless that I’d be giving a talk on a film I’d made about climbing El Cap, I don’t think I would have believed you, but I would have liked the thought. Isn’t it great how life works sometimes, you just have to stick with it. Hope to see you there!

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