"A word on the spot is worth a cartload of recollections"
James Maggs, Southwold diarist 1797-1890

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Staying sane on belays

There is a knack to staying sane on belays. You can be standing there for an hour holding your partner's ropes  while he is absorbed in the climb. You can't switch off completely as your partner is depending on you to catch him if he falls.

Usually you are in a beautiful place, with good views, which helps. In summer you can look down from a seacliff and see a seal watching proceedings from the water.

In winter you have to contend with the cold, and often it's windy and snowing too. I find the trick is to focus on small things, like the blue ice in an ice screw hole, or snow-crystals on an ice bulge. You see the world in new ways if you stand in one place for long enough, and look closely.

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