Wednesday, 24 September 2008

My time in Spain has come to an end and as usual, I find myself writing this from an airport. I guess it makes sense... Airports are possibly the most boring, and least enjoyable part of my life and so writing a blog, which is usually fairly low on my list of priorities, suddenly seems like a fantastic idea when the alternatives involve pacing up and down, or watching the information boards to find out how long my flight is delayed by. In fact, today, I have hit the airport blogging jackpot. I have found a place so perfect that all other airport blog sessions will hence forth be measured against this moment.

Firstly, I am in a fairly deserted part of the airport, well away from all the overweight, pink, hung-over Britons on their way back from a fortnight package holiday in beautiful Benidorm. Secondly, I am next to a power socket which I am happily borrowing electricity from to ensure my laptop stays fully charged for today’s in-flight movie. And thirdly, I am right in front of an info board so I can keep track of my epic, without even getting up. In theory, my flight will be departing at 21:00, but in practice, it is 20:45 and there is still not a gate listed.

It took a lot of searching to find this spot but I can assure you it was totally worth it. I would advise anyone else who has to spend time in these wonderful places to do the same and as with most things in life, its all about finding those silver linings.

So where was I... Oh yes, Spain. The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plains, at least that’s where it is supposed to fall but today it was falling squarely on the Orange house. I had climbed at the Wild Side at Sella for the last couple of days which is awesome but meant my skin was feeling a little thin. Two weeks of DWS did not do good things for my tips and even the thought of small holds was making me wince.

I had climbed fairly well and was pleased with the routes I had done and so felt that my last day should be something a little different. A few of us drove out to the Mascarat Gorge for another go at the big swing but today I was determined to make it really big, as big as possible in fact. I lowered as far as possible and marked the ropes at the correct point before scrambling back up the side of the gorge to the bridge. Without wasting any time, meaning I had no chance to back out I made my way to the take off point an clipped in. My heart was beating fast and thoughts of escape were at the front of my mind so I picked up my camera and started to record. I forced myself to tell the camera what I planned to do, knowing that once it was on film, I wouldn’t chicken out (its funny how your brain works). As I climbed with shaking legs onto the railing, I knew that everything was 100% safe but that didn’t stop me from imagining terrible things happening. Shouting out loud that I was going meant no turning back and I hurled myself off the top railing, entranced by the wavy slack rope stretched out in front of me.

A second later I was 50 meters below, speeding over boulders 3 meters off the floor. Leaning back in my harness, I smiled. After my friends had jumped, the heavens suddenly opened and down came some of the heaviest rain I have seen since Asia last year. We packed up the soggy gear and set off back to the car, which promptly steamed up, almost causing a few crashes on the way back.

Just to keep you updated, because I have nothing better to do, it is now 21:20 and my flight is now flashing RETRASADO! What fun...

I packed my bags but was very disappointed to find my man-kini was missing! My grand plan of wearing it home to surprise Emily came crashing down around me, what a terrible shame. Someone had obviously taken a bit of a shine to it and pocked it for themselves when I was not looking. The cheeky little rascals, how very dare they. Luckily or unluckily (which depends on your personal outlook), large ladies thongs are fairly prevalent nowadays, so I should not find too many problems in replacing it.

After relaxing for the last few hours, the time came to leave my friends and I grabbed a lift to the airport. I should be back in England at some point today or tomorrow and plans have already started for my return to Devon. To tell you the truth, I am very worried about going back on the route, knowing all too well what could happen and how I felt last time. But I have to try to keep these feelings and thoughts under control if I am to have any chance of completing the route. If I have learnt anything from today, it is that you can do things to change and control irrational fear and I think (hope) the same rules will apply to rational fear.

This route, which started off as a small idea in a mixed up mind, has grown into the biggest and most difficult challenge of my life. I have had to give, and will have to continue to give, more than ever before but if nothing else, this will make the final ascent even more satisfying. If people gave up when the going got tough the world would be a very different place.

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