Figuratively, and extremely literally, climbing has all sorts of highs and lows. The best days don’t always mean reaching the literal highest of highs. Although, I imagine it is an amazing feeling to climb the highest of highs. 🙂
Part 1: The Good
The other month I hopped on a climb that was at my limit: Platinum Blonde. Called by Mountain Project and the climber ahead of us as, the best 10a in town. Considering that high praise who wouldn’t be out there climbing the best climb in town? 😀
I had a previous attempt on this climb earlier in the summer (about 1 month before to be exact!). On my first attempt I was so tired and scared. At every bolt I stopped to take a rest at the safety of the bolt. Largely because of my fear of falling (i.e. overgripping), I pumped myself out. My first outside lead fall was a full bolt length as I was unable to place a quickdraw at the bolt.
It was fine. Like really, it was fine. Falling wasn’t my favorite experience in the world, but it was fine. My partner is more or less the same weight as me so it was a very gentle catch. I did have time to go from, “I’M FALLING” to “Hmmm. I’m still alive”, but once it was over it was a NBD moment. After that fall, my partner lowered me down, and she finished the climb and cleaned my gear off.
Flash forward to the next month and I am working on my second attempt of the best 10a in town. Even though I still took a few small breaks (i.e. small falls) I made it up the top.
So.. uh… what makes this story good?
For the first time ever, I made a choice in the climb to combat my fear of falling!
I started out about as nervous as my first attempt. Even though I knew falling was fine, my partner was a great catcher, I kept thinking about how I was going to fall. After stalling as long as possible by getting a thorough checking of knots and locked carabiners it was time to climb.
The climb started off as normal. I was feeling a lot better on it this time around then I was the first time. Like seriously, what route was I climbing before? These holds were way better than I remembered.
The exciting part starts about ¾ the way up; higher than I was able to get to the last time. I was close to my limit, and even closer to giving up. I could barely hold on. Being just above the quickdraw, I thought, “I better let go now. I can take a break at the quickdraw while a break is still my choice.” But then the graceful and elegant words came to my mind, “Heck no! If I am falling it’s not from giving up!”
Desperately, but consciously, 😉 I struggled to find a spot for my toes. I was hanging from my arms with no good foothold. I don’t know how I found it. It was pitch black (9pm at night), but there it was, a spot I could latch on to with my toes. I got my toes on, relieved my arms, and suddenly I could keep going to the next bolt! Turns out I was at the crux! The rest of the climb I finished even in my tired state. I needed to shake out a bit a couple times, but I made it!
Struggling to the top of a 10a climb is not the most glamorous thing I can admit too. That being said when I think of climbing I think of how fun that moment was. How exhilarating it is to overcome challenges. How awesome it is to become better in ways I can actually see. What is better than having a problem? Having a solution. I could easily have given up, but instead I pushed through! I see more “good” stories in my future. 🙂