I slot my hand into the crack, it’s perfect hands. Looking up the gently overhanging crack from the starting point I notice the slight flares, and the dime edges on the face left of the crack. I take note of the subtle widening of the crack, where it goes from off-hands to fists, and project my foot sequence approaching near the overhanging lip. I take note that the right wall pinches down, limiting any rightward movement gaining the top out. I slot a bomber #2 cam, clip the rope, jam my right foot and pull myself up into the action.
I climb up through the off-hands section, getting a solid foot jam and a perfect fist jam and hang comfortably from my bones, exerting the least amount of energy possible, and pick out a #3 cam and place it where it won’t hinder my progress upward. I’m shuffling my feet, right on top and left on bottom, while swimming my hands between fist jams. I find a good hanging rest off another fist and let my left leg dangle while I pluck another #3 off my harness and place it. I clip the rope and consider my options for pulling the lip to finish the climb. I remind myself to breath. Three deep breaths and I leap up into motion slotting my left hand into a finger width constriction, and then place my right hand up to match. Lifting my knee I bang it and start to come off the wall, but force my balance with all the strength I can muster from my core. It’s do or die now, no more lingering.
I launch up on some bad feet using my right finger jam to hold me on the wall and throw my left up into the corner, above the lip and out of sight, desperately feeling and scratching for weaknesses to use to pull myself up and over the top, but I’m scratching at a thin seam that my fingers can’t quite grip. My right arm is pulsing with pump, and my right leg starts to shake and jump violently under the strenuous position that’s holding the bulk of my weight. I feel the weakness, it’s no more than an inch or two above where my hand is scratching, and instead of standing on my right foot, I stretch with my torso and my feet come unglued. I plummet 7 feet and am caught by my belay.
“Man, you had it! Great burn!”
“Thanks, man. Nice catch! Go ahead and lower me.”
I get to the ground and we talk about what a great climb it is, and Andrew describes some details about the top. He tells me there’s a really bomber finger slot up there and suggests finding a way to position myself a little higher so I’m not reaching up and over the lip.
“Mind if I give it another go?”
“Sure, no problem, man. You got this.”
I repeat up the climb, and before launching into the top I re-evaluate my sequence. This time instead of throwing for the weakness I can’t see over the lip, I throw my right hand up right onto the top, and hanging from a sloping edge walk my feet up until my right arm forms a 90 degree angle with my chest and then straighten my right leg so my arm clears the lip, and then I see the finger slot. I throw my fingers into it and swing my left leg up and over the lip and match my right hand. I drag myself up and over the lip.
I yell down, “Hell yeah, man! That was awesome! Thanks for sticking with me!”
This is something that we in the climbing community are all familiar with. The unconditional support, and inherent competitive nature we possess. It’s not the competitive nature of one-up-man-ship, but instead of camaraderie and inspiration. The people we surround ourselves with support us and inspire us to push through our fears and our limitations to grasp a better understanding of ourselves and our capabilities.
The holidays can be dark, and there is no better time to surround yourself with people you admire, respect, and who in turn admire and respect you. It is these bonds that help us form a positive life experience, and deter us from comfortable stagnation. We open each others minds to new perceptions and possibilities. We support each other through life, times, and climbs as a team.
My friend Andrew is around my ability level, but is learning to embrace pushing through the limiting fear of failure. Instead of climbing lines that are probable, we seek out lines that are improbable, but not out of reach.
Sometimes it’s easy to settle for the mundane, because we can easily forecast the results–they are familiar and low-risk. Sometimes to defeat that state of mind and life we need to find others to help support us through that fear, and have to learn to trust that they will be there to catch us if we fall.
Earlier this week I went out climbing with my friend Janet. She taught me how to climb trad, and also how to climb multipitch walls. When I climb with her I am comfortable, and I can let my fears go. I can just go for it. I know she’s going to catch me if I fall. She knows that she can push her limits, because we’ll figure it out. There is no doubt on either side, and we bring unconditional support to the table in whatever objective one another tries. We communicate, and we remind ourselves that we are here for fun, so let’s have a good time.
And that’s what I’m going on about. Surround yourself with legit ass people who you enjoy to be around and who bring out the best in you. Imagine if people prioritized that in all of their relationships or when considering the places that they worked.
To those of you who have found what I’m talking about, good on you! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the whole thing.
Merry Christmas, and thank you all for all the support and following this year!