I was beginning to hate the sight of my computer monitor, I never thought this route would cause so much of a fuss but since completing it, or more precisely returning home, it has been utterly manic. For every choice you make, you must be willing to accept both the good and the not so good, and my choice to make climbing my profession should be no different. But having just finished my biggest epic yet, all I want to do is spend time with friends and family, relax and have a whole load of non-climbing fun. The urge to run-away was ever growing and on Saturday, I did just that.
One of my friends was having a little birthday celebration in the form of a chilled meal, a drink and then who knows. It sounded like just what I needed so I made a last minute decision and caught a lift down to Birmingham. The company was great, as was the meal and after too much good food and cheap wine, we found ourselves in the que for a random club. Fair enough I thought, random clubs seem to be the order of the day on spontaneous nights and you usually get exactly what you expect - bearable music, overpriced drinks but fun non the less as long as you don't expect too much.
Finally my turn came at the front of the que, "£14 please mate", shit the bed! 14 quid, he must be having a laugh, there is no way I'm paying that, doesn't he know I'm a tight fisted northerner? Then I remember I am the last of the group and everyone else is all ready inside. Grudgingly I hand over the last of my cash and head inside, probably muttering something rude under my breath.
On the way I pass a poster advertising tonight's line-up. I check to see what amusingly un-originally named local scallys are doing their thing, then choke as I almost swallow my tongue. I check again, looking to see the deliberate spelling mistake that just is not there, and run off inside, full of glee to tell the others.
I dont know how it happened, but headlining on this very night, in this very town, in this very club is none other than Krafty Kuts! Emily and I are both massive fans and have been trying to see him live for time and so cannot believe out luck. As we expect, the music is awesome and he does his amazing reputation and discography more than justice. An early morning taxi ride, far too short a sleep, very lazy day and a tiring return journey sees Em and I falling into bed and off to the land of nod.
Whilst still a little sleepy this morning, my body and mind feel fresher and I am ready to get back on with the task in hand.
Thankfully past the first section. Copyright David Simmonite
I have written a long account of the day of my ascent that will be published in Climb Magazine, along with fantastic pictures from David Simmonite, so if you want the complete low down you will need to be a little patient.
For now I can tell you that the ascent was a very strange experience with a few exciting twists creating massively mixed emotions and feelings. The route did not go without a fight and I honestly had to give it everything I had. At some points it was necessary to forget that I was on a trad route, if I had dithered, or showed too much caution it would have been over, in more sense than one.
As I imagined it would, The Walk Of Life, or more specifically the proposed grade, has caused quite a stir in cyber space, although not half as much of a stir as the wording of the initial press release. It seems that certain people took quite an offence to David Simmonite’s writing and reporting style, with some individuals being quite blunt (to the point of being rude) with their replies. This to me seems crazy and is genuinely upsetting; especially knowing what a good person Dave is. I realise that people have their own opinions and no one should ever try to deny or subdue these; but there are different ways and means to express yourself and I feel that, wherever possible, you should aim to be as civil and constructive as you can. In doing so, the outcome is positive, with both parties gaining something from the experience. The problem, I feel, is it is much easier to be negative than nice, which is a real shame.
The next most common point seems to be “how can James possibly justify giving The Walk Of Life E12?” People have been trying to compare and contrast this route with other routes of varying styles from all around the world and myself with other climbers. They have made predictions based on what they think I may have climbed in the past on trad or on bolts, on Grit or Granite, both pre and post morning poo, hung-over or sober, wearing my girlfriend’s knickers or completely starkers, or whatever else they think they may have once heard from their mate down the pub. I think by now you get the picture - a lot of people stating their two-peneth as fact, quoting numbers and names they could just have easily plucked out of thin air, which if they had, might probably be more accurate.
Hearsay is both a wonderful and wicked thing. Without it, conversations with your mates would be a lot less interesting, but if taken as the gospel, and published in public for all to see, it can have drastic and devastating effects on a person’s life. I am no saint, and I will be the first to admit it. I have made plenty of mistakes and done many stupid things when I was younger, including posting rumours on climbing forums. But, however much of a fool I have been, I feel I have learnt from my mistakes. There is a famous quote involving a fool, mistakes and wise men that seems very fitting. If you don’t know it, try a google.
So, in an attempt to settle any confusion, and to try to sum up my decision on the grade, here are some “facts” about The Walk Of Life, and the other routes I have compared it to. Let me just confirm that all of the following are either my own opinion, or the opinion of other people who have directly tried the routes in question. No third parties have been involved and no children or animals were hurt during the making of this climb.