July Sadness – Angelika Rainer

Angelika Rainer is a 3x World Ice Climber with a whole host of other climbing awards and achievements to her name. In the following blog, Angelika delves deep into the thoughts and feelings of an athlete in their ‘off-season’.

Who does not love summer, with its sunny days and the vacation time outdoors, on the beach or in the mountains?

When I am shivering in the snow in winter I dream of summer! And then spring comes along it makes me look forward to summer even more. Now it’s July and it’s the time of the year I always start feeling what I call ‘July Sadness’.

We are half way through summer, I can feel my days getting shorter, my yearly climbing trip to Kalymnos, the Greek island where I enjoy perfect rock and amazing beaches and where I like to think that my soul takes a rest is over. I am exhausted from a whole year of training and climbing – and additionally, I should really start planning for my winter project now, which is hard when it’s 35 degrees outside!

Over the past years, I have concentrated a huge chunk of my objectives in winter.

I participated in the Ice Climbing World Cup, which made me travel from South Korea to the US and from Russia to China. I went ice climbing in Canada and tried the hardest mixed-climbing routes in Colorado and in the Dolomites. But to be in the best possible shape for these projects, I need to start my training in August.

It is simply impossible to be physically in shape and mentally motivated for 365 days of the year and that’s why I usually get tired in July. I also suffer in the heat and so in previous years I always did my annual rest period for 2-3 weeks in July.

This year is different. I’ve always loved rock climbing and after a full winter of dry-tooling and ice-climbing I directly move on to rock-climbing.

However, as I explained earlier, in prior years there has always been a certain point where I just get physically and mentally powered out.

I now think this was connected to missing out on a big project. In spring and over the summer months I always tried some interesting rock-climbing routes but I have never had a big project that totally challenged my physical and mental abilities.

This year however I found myself a sport climbing route which is a perfect project for me. It is situated in a beautiful crag above Garda Lake and I really like the moves on crimps, slopers and tufas along that steep wall and so I am fully motivated to keep going.

Photo by Marco Servalli

As I know that my body still needs some rest from climbing, this year I did one week off in March after the ice climbing season and I will do 10 days in mid/late August, which is hopefully enough to recover from a whole year of pressure.

For now though (and for the rest of the summer) I will keep at my project and spend some days climbing in the Dolomites. And so, with an actual challenge and project in mind, this July seems less sad.