Have you ever felt that you were on the cusp of a big change? When a big part of your life changes dramatically or ends and something new and exciting begins?

It’s the first day in December, and the beginning of something new and exciting has put a spring in my step. It has come at the end of a year which has at times felt uncertain and on a number of occasions I have been massively unsure of the direction I was heading. The past twelve months sometimes felt like I was ‘on pause’, stuck not knowing where to go or what to do, with all motivation to conjure up new ideas dwindling. The one thing I can always rely on is climbing. I can step off the floor into a world of physical and mental distraction, totally taking over my capacity to think of anything else apart from how to move to the next hold. My reliable escape from the challenges and tolls of ‘normal’ life.

To give you a brief run-down of my background, I have climbed for twenty years and competed for eighteen. I started climbing when I was five. It is the most normal feeling that I can remember. At the time I started, I didn’t know it, but I was nurturing a long term relationship that would totally sculpt my life’s path. It sounds cheesy, I know, but that is exactly what it has done. Climbing is a long term relationship which requires a cocktail of emotions; attraction, attention, patience, love, support, TLC and frustration. Think about a girlfriend or boyfriend … Climbing is the same; you love it, you want it, it sometimes annoys you, it tires you, it fills you with elation. You have to work through highs and lows, it keeps you company, it makes you smile, you travel together, you miss it when it’s not there.

In short, it is simple … I love climbing. I truly and completely love climbing.

Through my years of climbing, I’ve learnt so much: How to climb; control, technique and tactics not to mention etiquette whilst climbing indoors and outdoors. I have grasped the skills of dealing with different personalities in the climbing world and how to mentally cope with climbing as whole when it’s not going so well. I am inspired most by watching people learn and accomplish, I love the look on someone’s face when climbing ‘clicks’ for them. I know that they have just found the thing that I found, what I live for. I am always hopeful that they will carry on enjoying it as much as I do and maybe more!

So, what of the ‘new beginning’? In November, The Arch and I started a partnership. We share the same views on what climbing is all about; it’s inclusive, physically and mentally engaging and an opportunity to be social in a totally unique environment. Together, in partnership, we want to try to spread and share these views with as many people as possible. We want to hear your stories, we want to know what climbing means to you. How has it changed you? In the coming months I’ll be writing articles about lots of different aspects of climbing, including accounts from people for whom climbing has had a hugely positive impact. You will see me around the walls of The Biscuit Factory and Building One a lot more, I’ll be the one training, route setting and drinking coffee. The Arch do good Coffee! I’m looking forward to meeting as many people as possible and so if you see me, please come and say hello!

As well as this I will be running a series of workshops at The Arch sites aimed at improving different aspects of your technique, taking your climbing to the next level and helping you find that ‘click’. Climbing has given me so much over the years and being given another opportunity to share my knowledge is an incredible privilege and a feeling I love.

If you’re reading this, whether you have been climbing for a day, a year or a decade there will be elements in what you have just read that resonate, and if you are yet to sample the delights that climbing has to offer, then you have all of this to look forward to.

Stay safe, #climbhappy

Leah x

Article originally published on the Arch Climbing website.