Known as the "keen youth", I have been climbing since the summer of 2001. I just bouldered until 2003, but decided i fancied a go at traditional climbing so I bought a basic rack. My first proper lead was "Ascent of Man" at the Roaches, i scared myself and spent ages before committing to the rock over onto the slab.
The next day saw the start of my obsession with head-pointing - Kaluza Klein, my first E7 - the start of the addiction.
Then came the heat and the midges. Forced onto the limestone, I tried my hand at sport climbing. Quickly realising that I had no stamina, I concentrated on the short, bouldery routes at the right hand end of RavensTor. Pump up the Power (Fr8a+) was dispatched, but I had yet to on-sight Fr7a. Finally the temperature dropped, the gritstone beckoned and my addiction was about to get out of control.
The Zone (E9 6c) was the start of a lot of things, my obsession with big numbers, my aid gear fetish, and my friendship with a nutty Aussie called Toby (Benham). Toby moved in and we spent the next 2 months on a gritstone rampage. We were psyched out of or tiny little minds. We climbed pretty much everyday, in all weathers. We would try routes in really bad conditions so that when we went for the lead on a cold crisp day they would feel relatively easy. We were playing a very dangerous game, and both came close to losing.
Toby went home, the pace slowed. I was still hooked on the top-rope, trying new line after new line. I managed to lead a few of them but there are three in particular that have been put aside until next winter...
It's hard to brake an addiction. Sometimes you need a firm push from your friends. It didn't look that big from the top, but standing underneath those gigantic roofs 30m above me my keenness was quickly fading. There was no option of retreat, the only way was up, so i set off on Wall Of Prey at Fairhead in Northern Ireland. Even though I was scared of failing, and even though we spent over three hours on the route, I loved it. On-sight all the way, I had been born again. It was like learning to climb from scratch. I would just go climbing and if I liked the look of a route I would climb it.
Of course, like every former addict, I get cravings. Every now and again I give in and dust the cobwebs off my static line. On-sighting and head-pointing are both amazing, Each has its good points and its bad points. Neither is better than the other. They are two completely different things, always have been, always will be. To use the words of a wise friend "be a jack of all trades, and master them all"