Everyone’s struggle is the same

I was recently asked by Hold breaker on why I think everyone’s struggle is the same irrespective of level.
My response was ‘Everyone’s struggle is the same because at the end of the day if your your trying hard your trying hard. It doesn’t matter if your limit is 6a, 7a or 8a and above it all feels the same’
In the moment it was the best I could come up with which I found frustrating as I wanted to do better but my mind was just blank.
Although I stand by these words to a point I believe it goes much deeper than that.

And so it got me thinking about struggles within climbing and no doubt all sports.
More specifically, my struggle … the struggle of the mind.


Anyone who knows me will know that I have spent the better part of a year injured, I hurt both my left and my right rotator cuffs (tendons and ligaments that hold your shoulder together) one after the other.
Though they still feel tender I am now able to climb and start training properly again, mainly thanks to Tim Cunningham at Peak pro fitness.
He has done a tremendous job at helping me rehab my shoulders, retrain my posture and sort out my neural pathways.

Coming back into the swing of things has been great but hard, mentally hard.
Although a lot of my strength has come back and I’m starting to feel a bit like the old me there are still my memories of how strong I used to be and how well I feel I used to perform.
These memories have been hard to deal with when falling off things that would have felt easy before.
Being at the climbing wall feeling like people have an expectation of how I should be climbing and although I am back to being a relatively strong climber I don’t feel like I climb to the standard that is being expected of me (subconsiously what I expect of myself).
Even though this is all in my head through the way I perceive others I have found it very hard to deal with as often I have ended up feeling upset and frustrated with a session because of it.
Having to retrain movements, that with correct posture feel really hard when I perceive them as being easy. Thinking if people are wondering why on earth I am doing such simple physical drills.
Worrying that every ache is going to turn out to be another injury or not.
Due to these trying to find motivation to keep going has been very hard.


The silly thing is in reality, nobody cares but me, it’s all self pressure and keeping it in check by focusing on positives on every session has been the way forward.
I’ve had to take steps back but ultimately I’ll come back all the stronger for it.

I know I’m not the only one feeling this way and going through these struggles, anyone in any sport has mental frustrations regardless of weather or not they are coming back from injury.
Feeling like motivation at times is hard to find.
Putting in so much time and effort for such minute increments of improvement.

I think in the end it it worth the effort and we will be better and happier if we can push through these times.

When times are hard you have to remember why you loved it in the first place.
For me that the exploration of new places and having a good laugh with friends.
This picture for sums up the feeling I get from the above mentioned points.



Black Choir E5 6b, The sentinel E2 5b

After a week of training the weather was looking nice so I headed out initially to Burbage north with Jess and a few friends.
For a while I have been wanting to have a play on ‘The Sentinel’ E2 5b
In my opinion its one of the most striking lines of the crag. A really obvious overhanging prow.
Well today I decided to have a go and successfully managed to on-sight it.
I had been saving this for the on-sight and was so glad I did as the experience was awesome.
Here is a picture of me on the onsight:

After this I headed to Higgar tor with my climbing partner Joe Heeley where we did a quick tick of ‘Black choir’ an E5 6b that I had liked the look of.
We had no trouble unlocking the sequence and both topped out within an hour of turning up.
Here we are on practice:

We are both dubious as to the E5 grade but where happy with the tick either way, it made for a good evening out.
Here is the video of our ascents:

2 new routes in a week (videos)

What a week 🙂

Both me and my climbing partner Joe Heeley have managed to successfully lead our new route projects.
Mine is an E6 6b at Turning stone edge and Joe’s is an E5 6b at Tegness quarries.
We are both buzzing off of this result.

I spotted my line a year or so ago when I was actually working on another route but didn’t think about it much at the time.
The thought of it slowly grew in my mind, as with all routes I get involved with.
Like Inception, the idea planted in your head slowly grows.

This got to a point where I felt compelled to go and check it out which I did with my friend Josh after work. The sequence soon got worked out and finalised and we left knowing that I was able to climb it.

Now after you know its possible and that you are capable of doing it the obsession kicks in, there’s almost nothing else you can think about, for me anyway.
It’s like a constant nagging in the back of your mind (akin to the feeling that you might have left the iron or cooker on or something) I end up day dreaming, running through the sequence of moves over and over again.
Work and weather prevented me from going back for a few weeks which to me was agonisingly annoying.

However luck would have it that both Joe and I had Friday evening free and so we found ourselves at the crag and ready to go.
Practice done, light fading, game on!!!

The thought of the fall I could take if I came off was sitting in the back of my mind, even though in practice I had not fallen off since knowing the sequence but what if …..
It’s not worth thinking about, you would fire off sideways twisting at the same time straight to the floor. (6/7ish metres)
This pic of me in practice shows the swing really well:whogivesafontSuitably psyched and ready to go I got on and didn’t hesitate in the moment, I looked at the move, thought ‘lets have it’ and lept with faith …. literally.
Without further ado, here is a video of me on the first ascent:

A sense of euphoria comes when something you’ve obsessed over is completed.
The nagging feeling subsides and happiness, calm and contentedness take over, it really is an odd thing to try and describe.


Joe’s line at Tegness quarries I think is really cool in my opinion, it’s just a shame that I struggled to do the crux move and so was not in a position where leading would be acceptable.
Joe on the other hand was looking so strong on it he had no choice but to give it a go.

The sequence was unlocked on a quick outing after work but the light faded and annoyingly we had no time for a lead attempt to be made.
Itching to get back we ignored the weather forecast and chose to head out anyway.
Somehow we struck gold and there was no rain at all, everything was bone dry, though there was a feeling of having to be quick as we could see clouds looming in the distance.

A quick practice and he looks at me (I already know what he’s gonna say)
‘I’m ready’ and so the rope comes out, the camera is set up, he takes a deep breath and sets off.
Looking calm he places the gear, a slight pause to visualise the committing sequence and he goes, I watch heart in mouth as he starts, he looks solid but I know how easy a fall would be (a centimetre misplaced and a fall would be unavoidable).
Knowing how fast I would need to react for him to have a chance of not hitting the floor.
Double toe hooks in, higher toe hook placed and boom he powers through the move and grabs the next hold … awesome effort.

Blackewell Dale / Stoney Middleton

For some bizarre reason I always seem to end up at this venue on the back end of a weeks worth of climbing. This venue or venues rather being Blackwell Dale and Stoney Middleton.
Feels silly as to have success on the harder stuff here would require me to be fresh and ready for battle, the style being that you have to pull hard and hold core intensive positions like this one on ‘Titus’ (Font 7c at Stoney)
Playing on 'Titus' Font 7c
Even though I played on this at the end of the day I surprisingly made good progress for the first session.

The day started off at Blackwell Dale, a nice little place even if it is situated on the road side.
It was quite pleasant having the place to myself for a few hours. Odd as I’m a people person in general but I quite like the solitude of climbing on my own at times, left to my own thoughts.
My ‘me time’ it can be quite refreshing.
Anyway I digress.

The initial plan was to take a look at ‘Paint it black’ A 7c that is not my style (can’t always stick to what I’m good at) …. Turns out its hard, for me it is anyway.
Even though it’s not what I’m good at I was happy to do most of the moves, just struggled to get the start to work as it has a rather tricky to place heel hook, but oh well, can’t win them all.

After giving this some effort I decided to have a look at two other problems:
‘Red or Dead’ (Font 7b/V8)
‘Fudge’ (Font 7a/V6)

Red or Dead was a nice little problem though I think soft for Font 7B/V8. Took me maybe 15-20 mins to unlock the way to the top, the trick being the heel to hand move.

Fudge I did on my second attempt, I had tried it before at the end of a session last year so had a good idea of what to do already.

For those of you interested here is a video of me climbing the two problems:

My first Font 7c+/V10 ‘Master Kush’

A while back I managed to climb the route ‘Master Kush’ at Rivelin Edge.
Making this the first boulder problem that I’ve climbed at the grade of Font 7c+/V10.

The first time I checked this out was last year after having spotted it in the guide book looking for problems that suited my style.
A nice series of tension moves with a dyno crux … seemed just my thing.

Initially the moves felt desperate, most likely due to the start of the warm weather but seeing possibility was not deterred.

This year after having climbed ‘End of the Affair’ I changed my focus on bouldering and so, found myself sitting under this problem again, and again and again.
In fact I found myself here 6 days in total including the first session the last year.

A little frustrating as I could do all the moves from the second session but however it took me another 4 sessions to be able to land the dyno in a full link.

On the day of success I actually linked it twice as I had a dab on the pad the first time.
Although it was barely a touch I was not happy to call it done until there was no dab.
Luckily the next attempt went smoothly, and my hardest boulder to date was done.

Here is the video (the quality is not great but it shows me getting up the thing):

Second ascent of ‘Patiently waiting’ Font 7a.

A bit late in writing about this but I popped out last week to look at a new boulder problem up at the Stanage plantation.
The first ascent was done by a friend of mine: James Turnbull

Wait … what!!!! Something new at the plantation, how is this possible????

Well folks, it is, and it’s a gem 🙂 given time I think this will see many ascents and in my opinion is worth going to play on.
In fact, a group of lads went up and climbed it the same day I did giving it about 7 ascents that I know of to date, all commenting on the quality of the problem.

It’s situated on the back of the classic ‘Brass monkeys’ boulder.
Start on the right hand side, traverse the lip, go round the corner and rock you way to victory on the slab.
A little heart in mouth as it was a little scrittly when I was there, but with the recent ascents and more to come I think that this will all go away.

Good effort James and a lovely find.

Unfortunataly my phone deleted the HD version so there is only this grainy one but here is a little video of me on the second ascent:

The End of the Affair E8 6c

I’m rudely awoken by the horrible buzz of my alarm going off, its finally Monday, the day I’d arranged with Archie to go back to Curbar.

The forecast was that it was raining in the morning and as I come to my senses a part of me hopes that its still raining or that it is still wet and a cosy trip to the climbing works would be the call of order for the day …. but alas … I look out only to be greeted with a nice sunny day with a bit of a breeze.

No excuses!!!

I start my drive out a little late. The ‘5 minute’ lay in turned to 20 as I’d forgotten to reset my alarm. It feels a little warm … maybe its too warm (my mind trying to find an excuse).

Needless to say we met up and started our walk in. The breeze actually making us pretty cold and it starts to dawn on me, I’ve got no excuses left. There’s that familiar sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, its building with every step closer to the route.

The route that I’ve wanted to climb for years, the route that has completely dominated every thinking moment for the last two weeks. The route:

‘The End of the Affair’ E8 6c

First up is Archie, a few tries and hes finalised his beta

‘you gonna go for it then, you know you can do it’
‘sure’ And just like that its game on.
The rope get pulled down, the pads go out and he’s tied in, ready to go.

Off he goes, and he flows, never making a mistake.
He’s chalked and gearing up for the final stretch to the sloper … I see his legs shake a bit … shit … I get ready to run.
As soon as he lifts his leg and places his foot on the smear he’s completely solid again though my heart is in my mouth as his hand reaches out … he’s got it, bloody good effort, its in the bag and I wait till he has the glory jug before congratulating him.

Oh dear, he’s actually done it … that means I have to do it or at least give it a go.
So I practice twice and think ‘I can fret about this all day or just man up and try’
‘Let’s do it’ I say and pull the rope down.
I tie in and psyche up, my mind going wild, I’m actually tied in to ‘The End of the Affair’ I’m actually about to try and lead this uber classic line.
Stand up, loosen up, chalk up … my mind starts to calm and I think about the sequence, can I justify the risk … sure I want this, I can’t walk away and let there be no end to this affair.

I start to climb and fall into the zone, no rational thoughts or emotions, just the sequence. My climbing brain has taken over. Right up until I look at the sloper and ready myself for the jump. This is when I realise that the rope is in-between my legs, by making this beginners mistake I knew that if I fell it would invert me.
It’s too late now, the balance here is so precarious I can’t do anything about it. I think ‘now or never’ and I jump finding myself shout more as a release of emotion than anything else.
My hand slaps the hold and … oh no, I’ve caught it wrong … my hand slips, stay calm Kyle … falling from here is not an option … I quickly sort my feet out and manage to bump my hand over, stay calm Kyle, if you shake you’ll probably fall off, I get my heel onto the arete … stay calm Kyle.
I reach up and as my fingers wrap over the glory jug my emotions pour out and I let a roar of satisfaction come out.

Its done 🙂 I can’t believe it, it’s done.
I’m here, I’m safe and now I’m at the top of The end of the Affair, It doesn’t feel real but it is.

This is particularly meaningful as its my fist E8, and I remember watching ‘Hard Grit’ many years ago thinking I would love to climb it but never truly believing that it would happen.

A team tick, what a day, probably one of the best days I’ve had on grit. To hear the other side of the story visit Archie’s blog: http://cbclimbing.blogspot.co.uk/search?updated-min=2014-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&updated-max=2015-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&max-results=7

Here is the video of our day out. Enjoy.