Matt's midwinter training regime in the Matt Cave.
Look carefully and you can see bloody finger smears above each hand hold, as well as all of the rubber toe scuffs on the foot nuggets.
Summer evening sessions, with Si racking up for some "outdoors" climbing the following day.
For years, at about this time of year, my Mum would repeat the same phrase to me in an effort to get me to knuckle down to some exam revision: "Short term sacrifice: Long term gain".
This phrase has mutated in my head to a slightly catchier rhyme which gets bounced around our house a fair bit:
"Short Term Pain: Long Term Gain"
It's also around this time of year in the Northern Hemisphere when the evenings start to really stretch out and the sun (sometimes, like this evening) makes an appearance, allowing us all to get out and do what we'd rather be doing an awful lot more often. So it's now that all of the training pays off.
Matt and Si built the bouldering wall into the back of the garage used to store all of the Cornish Rock Tors equipment so that they could train for climbing trips, particularly through the winter when rain and short days might otherwise hamper their vertical pursuits. It's at a 20 degree overhang with a couple of different routes traversing it, going up and down, side to side with little bits of numbered masking tape peppering the plywood. My other housemate Benny and I also started training on it, but Matt and Si had built it for themselves so for me it was a bit like learning to drive in an F1 car; lots of stalling and crashes but with perseverance comes skill, strength and some solid technique. Between the lot of us, there's been a lot of howls and growling on the wall, blisters, callouses and some blood smears from brutalised and bandaged fingers.
All infinitely worth it when the sun comes out and you've got long sunny evenings to put all the training to good use and being back on the rock isn't half as tough as you expected it to be.
Where all of the effort pays off; I don't know what this climb was called, but I labelled this image "The Towers of Pain". Matt Wheadon reaching on up.
Easter time lunch stop under a crag called "Easter Island" in Cheddar Gorge with my housemate's Ben and Matt (who both run Cornish Rock Tors), and Matt's brother Sam eyeballing our next route in the background.