"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it." ~ Charles Swindoll
Last night I ventured out with my climbing teacher/buddy Jim to our Thursday night haunt, The Crux.
Jim and his buds have been climbing here for quite some time - I'm the newbie of the group. Allegedly there are others in the group, but it is usually just Jim, Gunter, Stephan and I. There are a cast of other characters at the gym that I'm beginning to know and say hi to as well. It's a great place to spend a Thrusday night!
Jim and I were the first ones to arrive. I let him climb first because it gives me a chance to relax and get into the climbing mode. In other words, to try and shake off any fear I have about having to climb up the 72 foot wall and possibly plunging to my death!
I noticed last week that I had less fear while I was climbing. My heart rate was fast, but not too fast. My palms were ever so slightly less sweaty - always a good thing when trying to cling for ones life on a fake rock. As well, I wasn't shaking as much. In fact, last week I made it to the top twice! A first for me.
Jim has been fantastic about sharing climbing knowledge with me in little bits so I can digest and apply them. Last week I decided to work on climbing up an actual route, rather than just climbing willy nilly up any old path. My attempt to climb a 5.8 was not successful, but I made it halfway and decided I'd try again this week.
Stephan showed up after us so when it was my time to climb he offered to be my belay. I decided I'd attempt the green 5.8 route that beat me last week. I made it halfway again when my arms just wouldn't work and I couldn't figure out how to go further. I got Stephan to lower me down.
I was then his belay as I watched him climb an amazing 5.12 or 5.13 route. As I belay I try and watch what the guys are doing, not just because I have to in order to make sure I've got the rope tight, but also to try and learn something.
Last week there were a couple of guys that were friggin Spiderman! The way they moved was so graceful, it was hard to look away. They were climbing the 5.13's as well. Both of them were actually sideways at one point, then they'd do a little shift of the shoulders and up they went to the next hold. It was wild.
I continued to attack the green route with my next climb, but again was not sucessful. Double urgh. I decided for my next climb to try another part of the wall which is in the corner. I like being here because I use the corner to help me up. Plus I feel less exposed. The green route had been on the edge of the wall so when I would let go to rest I would swing out into an open area. This got my heart a thump thump thumping again!
Finally. I made it to the top. Granted, I didn't follow a path.
Next stop, a blue route that I think was also a 5.8 or perhaps a 5.9 level. I'd been up this bit of wall several times, but I normally can't follow the blue route the whole way. Again, Stephan was my belay.
At this point my forearms were pumped and my hands were cranky. In other words, I was getting pooped. I haven't yet built a fitness for this!
I started my climb. Stephen helped point out a couple of holds that I could take so I could stay on the blue route. Part way I up I could feel I was getting tired. I kept climbing. I was starting to struggle to keep a grip on the holds, my hands were sweaty from the work. It felt like there was dough in my chalk bag even!
I was happy that I was taking some chances this time. There were a few spots where I wasn't tall enough or agile enough to reach my foot to the next hold. At one point I gingerly placed my foot on a hold that wasn't on the blue route. That's when I heard 'Ah ah!' from below. Crap. No cheating on this one. So I reached up and got a good hold with both hands, pulled myself up while running up the wall until I hit the next blue hold. This put a very big smile on my face. I was making some improvements!
I got part way up and took a break on a ledge there. It was a struggle just to get to the ledge, then when I was on there I realized I was more afraid being on it then hanging on the holds! I also realized I wasn't sure how I'd get back to the rocks. For anyone that is not afraid of heights this may seem odd. Even though I knew I couldn't 'fall' I was scared to reach over, step off the ledge and start climbing again.
I made it just a wee bit further when I asked Stephan to lower me down. I was beat. My arms were killing me, I was sweating like a beast so couldn't get a grip and I was just pooped. His response? 'No.'
So there I am, hanging around 30 feet in the air and thinking 'Seriously???' 'No????' Crap!
Had I been on the solid ground, I could have pulled a little girl hissy fit. As it were I was dangling on a wee rope refusing to look down because it freaks me out. Stephan must have known this.
His next words were, 'Come on, you can do it. Keep going.'
I had no choice. The man was not going to lower me, so there was only one way to go. Up.
I could have taken the easy way out and just climbed. I knew that I couldn't do that though. I'd already gotten heck for trying to step off the route before. He wasn't letting me down because he knew I really wanted to climb a route and stay on the route. Somehow I was going to do this. Of course I'd be mumbling curses the entire rest of the way while doing it. That was a given.
It was brutal. I'd get past a couple of holds and then get stuck. Either I couldn't figure out which way to go, or I couldn't see the hold, or my hands would slip off. My arms were killing me and I had no idea how I was going to pull this off.
I just kept going inch by inch, hold by hold. My heart was racing like I was running a 10k even though I was moving at a snail's pace. I could feel the sweat dripping off my face. Not to mention I could have really used a sip of water at that point. I think I'd breathed in too much chalk and was quite pasty mouthed. Ick.
At long last, I was only one hold away from the top. I tried to get stable footing, but couldn't. I could hold onto the second to last hold, but it was big and offered no where to grasp so I could pull myself up to the last one. I stretched and gave it a go. I slipped. I swung. I swore. I think I let out a bit of a squeak too, as I'm apt to do rather than a full out scream when I fall.
I took a deep breath. Got my footing back. Chalked my hands. Tried again.
Again I slipped off and swung back and forth. Mumble, mumble, mumble.
Stephan called from below 'You can do it! You just need to get it and hold on.' Which meant that the fact that I TOUCHED the last hold didn't count. I had to actually be hanging on to it and stable before he'd lower me. Mumble, mumble, mumble.
One more time. REACH!
I got it. I got the friggin hold! I pulled up and was stable. I let out a 'whoop!'. It was such an amazing feeling!! I couldn't believe that I had climbed a route!!! When I got back to terra firma I high fived Stephan and thanked him for not lowering me. I didn't tell him I had taken his name in vain a few times while dangling from above.
I am still on a bit of a high from that wee triumph. What a great way to spend a Thursday night! I'm sure I'll give that route another go next week and perhaps it won't take me as long?? Or maybe I won't slip as much?? Either way it will be a hoot!
Peace out my fabulous friends!