The first climbing magazine I bought had Joe Brown on the front, and I bought it because it was the first climbing magazine I’d ever seen. It was a copy of High and everything I knew about the climbing scene was contained within its pages. Joe was climbing Right Unconquerable again, except this time he was coloured in. I remember looking at the black and white photos of the first ascent, and thinking ‘wow’ about the whole thing, even though I didn’t know where it was. It was important, I knew that much. In front of Joe’s face, underneath the clingy plastic wrapper, was a Power Bar. This is what I have to eat from now on, I assumed. I have tried to make it as a climber who doesn’t eat Power Bars, since that first taste and the five-minute-chew which followed.
I guess it’s worked, because about 11 years since my first purchase, I am standing in a newsagent secretly reading a copy of Climber. Reading it because I am one, I guess, and reading it secretly because I spent all my pocket money on going to the Alps. John Horscroft has been going out to lunch to write his column for longer than I’ve even been climbing, and he’s finally saying his farewells from the slot under the back jacket. And I’m going to replace him, with a short interview column. It feels weird. For the first time, it hits home that I actually might be a writer, that it isn’t just a pipe dream any more.
I put the magazine back on the shelf and buy some fruit pastilles, to show the shopkeeper I know it’s not a library.