17 Jun A Good Day for a Take

I spent this past weekend climbing with a group of friends at the Holcomb Valley Pinnacles near Big Bear Lake. Ten people sharing a two bedroom cabin pretty much guaranteed a great time! Haha. We all pulled into the cabin around midnight on Friday, to flooded streets and pouring rain. I was worried we wouldn’t be able to climb, but luckily the rain stopped overnight and a sunny morning combined with granite rock meant we were good to go by about 10:00am Saturday.

As expected, the weekend was awesome. I got to watch my friends send multiple projects and achieve many personal bests, while having a few successes of my own; onsighting an 11c slab route, sticking a nice dyno on a 10d overhang (dynamic moves being one of my big weaknesses), and putting the draws up on a 12a that I had only “pink pointed” a year before.

I went into the weekend particularly excited about one route though, Crematorium 5.12d.  My goal for the year is to send a 5.13a so I was really curious about how this route would go down.  Lets just say my excitement waned pretty quickly when I found myself completely stuck at the second bolt.  Reaching the third bolt entailed some big moves and an insecure clipping stance, which I just couldn’t bring myself to do.  After hanging for quite some time, I finally decided to stick clip the third bolt.

After doing this, I was able to work out the sequence and finish the route. Although I was happy to finish, I was pretty frustrated with myself as well.  As I push into these higher grades, I am noticing more and more frequently that it is not strength or physical limitation holding me back, but rather fear.

I’m pretty much terrified of falling.  People who don’t climb or paraglide with me tend to think I’m rather fearless, but the truth is, I’m kind of a huge scaredy cat. I’ve spent hours of my life crying at bolts or paralyzed on launch, completely unable to move.  Even several years into these sports, there is rarely a moment in the air or on the rock when I’m not looking down in fear, thinking, “You are an idiot.”  But I also think this is one of the biggest reasons I participate in these activities.

Because the type of fear I experience isn’t necessarily rational.  It does not take into account calculated risks and safety precautions. My fear does not see the rope and draws, the hours of training, or the belayer waiting to catch me. My fear only sees the fall. So even though I might not be in any real danger, I am still unable to move.

Sometimes I’m able to push through, which is such an amazing feeling of accomplishment!  Other times, I get stuck, as I did on Crematorium.  And this is really frustrating because it means that it’s just my own self standing in my way.

But frustration aside, every climb can teach us something about ourselves and what we need to do to achieve our goals.  So even though I left Holcomb this weekend feeling a bit unhappy with myself, I’m also feeling really motivated as I have learned exactly what I need to do to keep moving towards that 13a.  I’m heading into the gym this week to train hard…and take a whole bunch of whippers!