When I was a kid, everyone seemed to know what they wanted to do, and it was usually what their dads had done. 'I want to be a doctor,' or 'I want to be a teacher.' I was no exception. When people asked me what I would be, I also had an answer.
'I'm going to be a crag rat.'
From the moment I became hooked on climbing, I knew the only thing I ever wanted to do was hang around at crags and climb all the time. Even the phrase, 'crag rat' - living in the dirt, having no money, scurrying up cliffs - sounded brilliant.
Conditions were ideal, the crag dry and cool. There was only one other team there. First I climbed the route resting on each bolt to get a feel for it again, lowered off, and prepared myself mentally.
I knew I had to do everything, every single move, perfectly. One fumble would end in failure. Grabbing a hold anywhere other than in the perfect position, placing a foot half an inch from where it's meant to be, any hesitation, and you're off. But I had every movement wired into my brain like a programme.
I knew not to deviate in any way from what I had to do. I stepped onto the rock and fired it first try. To watch, the ascent might have looked easy, but it felt like one of the performances of my life.
My body went through the air. It was like slow motion. I stuck the hold. My feet came off the footholds, and I put them on the higher ones. I threw the next move. Bam! And the next. Bam, bam! And that was it. A moment before I was on the ground, wondering if I would ever do this move, and the next moment I was at the top of one of the hardest bits of climbing I have ever done.