Hello everyone, I hope you are all doing well and are excited to be back at the walls with a smile on your faces. That is the hope, but of course these past few months have been tough, so I have decided to write this blog post at a very unexpected time where I may potentially be at my lowest point in many years, but with tremendous excitement for the future.

Lockdown 3.0 has been tough for some and great for others. For me personally it has been a mixed bag with many highs and lows in a very short period of time.

Of course, climbing has been a saviour for many of us in these turbulent confusing times, which unfortunately has also been put on the back burner for many of us coming back from three months of eating, sleeping and general frustration/boredom. But now we are back to the walls, with chalk on our hands and tight shoes on our feet.

The first climb I returned to involved a dyno on a grade I am used to climbing, on an overhang, my sourdough bread and butter. This is where the realization sunk in, falling to the ground, that I couldn’t’ even come close to where I was climbing before 3 months of stagnation. I just want those of you returning to climbing and experiencing a similar feeling to know, you are not alone, you will get back to the climbs you want and be kick ass in no time.

Even as an individual who works in a climbing gym, I understand the frustration of no longer pulling hard on those beautiful resin holds we all know and love.  As someone who may be slightly impatient, this realization that I would have to regain a lot of lost strength, ability and technique was very depressing.

In fact, it was so demotivating that I actually lost my interest and desire to climb upon returning to work, which was a very concerning occurrence to me, especially as I’ve built my life around climbing because it’s so sick. Funnily enough it took falling even lower into a rut, losing my confidence, motivation, and general psyche to realise what matters to me in life and how lucky I really am.

As I lay here in a hospital bed on my 20th birthday, due to my legs deciding to double in size (If only my tendons would do the same), that I realized I have so much to enjoy ahead of me, regardless of how much work it will take. With another two weeks minimum of no climbing ahead and another three months of potential rehabilitation, I have only now gotten excited to fail on the things I once found easy and to fall on what used to be my warmups; because I am actually lucky enough to repeat the learning process and the garner the rewards that climbing brings for a second time. Additionally, getting ill has enabled me to meet some amazing nurses, doctors and other patients on the ward who also climb, leading to many interesting conversations, showing climbing’s ability to bring people together.

With so many negative things occurring in my personal life from unexpected loss of close family, illness and not seeing any of my friends for three months, it has made me appreciate the small wins more than ever before in my life. I have also been lucky enough to have a job I love to return to, finally fulfilling my dream of converting a van and according to the doctors, my heart is healthy as hell!!! Which hopefully means a longer life to create positives that outshine the negatives and of course many more years of Rokku kuraimingu (rock climbing in Japanese, thanks Ryan). It’s also highlighted how many true friends I am lucky enough to have in my life who always ask how I’m doing, even on my bad days that I try to mask with a charade, or when I fail on a climb that I want to get.

So, for those of you possibly getting frustrated or struggling on your first sessions or even weeks back to the hangar, don’t worry. You are not alone and it won’t take long to get back what you’ve lost. Better yet, it brings a multitude of new opportunities to become a better climber, make new friends and of course get some sick coffee from the café when you’re all done.

Take your time getting back to it and don’t punish yourself for menial things like eating a bit unhealthy, not getting enough exercise or even not being in control of everything in your life that you’re used to. Because I currently am full of 4 slices of cake and enough food to feed three people in a day and better yet haven’t walked once today. Not exactly my normal, but at this point what is normal.

Those of you who know me at Hangar Matchworks, know that I’m never shy to come into the climbing wall from the desk and help with any climb you may be struggling on, even if I cannot climb myself, that will never change.

So, for anyone coming again after a long hiatus, for a first time or even if you’ve been climbing regularly and are officially a shredded beast who rips holds off the walls; don’t be afraid to come have a chat with the staff on shift. We’re all excited to be back, not just for our own personal climbing, but also to see you all smiling, laughing, and crushing it on the walls. And for anyone who feels at a low point in their climbing or is just struggling a bit with the effects of lockdown. Please come and say hello if you spot me and I will be happy to get you a coffee, have a chat or throw some nonsense beta at you. Whatever your heart desires.

All in all, I just wanted to say, be kind to yourselves peeps and take your time getting back into the swing of things (potential climbing pun); because you’re all awesome in your own way and all capable of smashing your goals in less time than you probably think.

Best wishes everyone and see you lovely people all in the near future.