Winter reality check

The moment the thrill of escaping the airport settled, I quickly remembered how quiet my neighborhood is during the winter. I have been living alone in my family's summer home since 2016, this would be my second winter spent all by myself; in the past these tough times were easily endured with my girlfriend.

Arriving in Montreal at the peak of winter hurts in many ways, especially after having spent a month in Egypt at a consistent temperature of twenty degrees. Aside from cutting days short, making it hard to step out of a warm bed, and freezing everything in its path, the Canadian winter also confines climbing to indoor bouldering gyms.

The artificial climbing experience is a great way for you to explore and grow within a safe environment; cradling you on its soft mats, and controlled climate. Beta Bloc, my local gym, is home to a growing community of both novice and experienced climbers on the West Island of Montreal. Locals gather to challenge each other on a range of high quality boulder problems that are reset biweekly. But after just one week of holding plastic slopers, crimps and jugs (various hold types) I feel I’ve lost an appetite for the gymnastic and dynamic movements of the gym. It seems that after crawling outdoors onto my first granite boulders in the mountains of Val David, Canada, and my first sandstone boulders in the valleys of Sinai, Egypt, I have adopted new intentions within the realm of climbing . . . exploration.

The intimate bond I shared with nature as I walked through the valleys of Sinai, the sense of creativity I felt while mapping out routes on short faces, the history I learned from the signs left in the rocks, overwhelms my desire for physical metamorphosis. And the shift in motivation is evident in my climbing performance at the gym. I returned to repeat the problems left over the winter holidays and completed them successfully, but after the most recent reset my performance has dropped. I am easily exhausted mentally, as I lose interest faster than before, and find excuses to abandon the hard projects.

This is where a reality check is in order.

I must recognize the seasonal nature of climbing in Canada and avoid taking the opportunities to learn technique and grow in strength within the gym for granted. I must cherish the few months warm enough to climb outdoors and spend the rest of the year in preparation for them. Ultimately the thing I must never do is put down any chance to get better at climbing, whether it be outdoors, in a gym or in my basement.

This month I will pay the most attention to my mental state; being especially mindful of my dissatisfaction with the weather. I think this is something everyone should take a moment of their day to reflect on.

Where does the power lie, to overcome the freezing grip of winter? What is there to learn from this prolonged state of hibernation?

A few words come to mind: endurance, grit, patience, creativity and resourcefulness.

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