For me Malham is easily one of the most impressive cliffs we have, as far as limestone goes its one of the few that compares to the best in France or Spain. But its a place Ive always found tough, somewhere I needed a lot of motivation just to start attempting any of the routes there.
So today deciding to skip a possible trip to Scotland and try and get the rock season off to a start involved a fair bit of positive thinking. Not least that I had a nose dripping like a tap matched only by the teaming rain as Alex and I left Sheffield. We were rewarded surprisingly with an almost bone dry crag to ourselves (until mid afternoon when another team braved the forecast).
For some odd reason I ended up with quickdraws in two parallel routes Against the Grain, a 7a I've done before but which for me would still be a good tick for the first day sports climbing of the year, and Taking the Space, a 7b - a grade I haven't climbed for about a decade. With the clock ticking on our return drive I had a decision to make. I'm hoping to try to carry some of the momentum over from the winter season so using the power of positive thinking I opted for the harder route. It would be nice to report that I floated up it first redpoint but it didn't quite work out like that, but it still felt great to be making forward choices straight away at the beginning of the season. The following whippers blew away a few cobwebs too.
On the same note, as a Dad its easy to come up with excuses why you can't climb as hard as you want to but one of my role models is another Sheffield Dad Steve McClure, who climbed his hardest route the amazing Overshadow 9a+ at Malham while bringing up his 1 year old daughter. For a bit of McClure inspiration check out this excerpt from Alastair Lee's Psyche film of Steve on his other Malham testpiece Rainshadow 9a.