Don’t Let Me Fall

Oh my gosh, you guys.

Heights.

I don’t like ’em. I mean, I love climbing, and going and going until I’m way up high, and even falling when really it’s a jump and I’m in control, but OH MY GOSH HEIGHTS.

I guess really it’s OH MY GOSH FALLING. I don’t wanna do it.

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Unrelated bouquet. This is still sitting in my car. Special thanks to Earth Fare for the orange peels and ‘Bama for the flowers.

I had another freakout on Saturday. We finally made it back to Grey Wall at Little River Canyon, and I was psyched to send two 5.11s I tried back in July. I’d originally planned to send Obsession (5.11a) and Easy Up (5.11?) on toprope, but after last week’s pullup success and a few days off, I was feeling strong and confident, if a little nervous.

So I decided to lead Obsession. After a boulderish warm-up traversing the face on low jugs, I stepped up to the rock determined to succeed. Nick had already hung my draws, so all I had to do was clip the rope in. Just climb and clip.

Well, long story short, I did not send. I fell at the crux, hated it, then remembered my beta and continued shakily. Then I had to clip some draws, and I didn’t wanna fall, and it was scary, but I did it, and then I had to clip the anchors, which was terrifying because the top of Obsession is overhanging and intimidating and I just didn’t know if I could do it, but I didn’t want to fall. Before I got on the route, I told myself not to be scared of the overhung part. You can do it, I told myself. You’re strong enough. But by the time I got there, I was already wigging out because a. I knew this was the hardest route I’d ever tried to lead b. I know I’m not good on overhangs and c. I was friggin’ pumped. Not to mention terrified of falling, which of course is scariest when you’re just about to clip in because it means you’ll fall like, I dunno, lots of feet!

Tears. Whimpers. I could. Not. Do it.

I mean obviously I could, because I did, and then I came down and sent it with relative ease on toprope. But instead of being excited about my first 11, I was disappointed I hadn’t led it and frustrated with myself, because really it was all mental, and I know I could climb harder if I’d just let go of the fear.

Further frustration: I got on what I thought was Easy Up but was actually the ~*harder*~ route next to it, the name of which I do not remember. It would have been funny if I hadn’t been so upset about wearing myself out  on toprope before I could actually get to my project. But I’d already agreed to clean the route, so I had to finish it, boinking and all. Sigh.

So I really felt the failure on Saturday. To make things worse, it was the first day we’d gone to the Canyon and actually seen other humans there. Humans who witnessed my 5.11 sobfest. Super strong humans who apparently bolted the routes we were climbing. So I was pretty embarrassed too. But maybe they didn’t notice me? Ha.

It may sound like I was miserable, and there was definitely some crying and swearing going on, but it really was a fun day. For one thing, Taylor got to come!

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Sista Fran so cute. And she took every photo in this post except this one! Check out her photo bizniss here.

It was so nice to have my twinny twin along. It was her second time climbing outside and her second time toproping, and she did quite well. And got some great photos!

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I drove up with Taylor, Evan, and Beckett, facing my #roadfear too, and nothing scary happened! (I promise I’m not actually afraid of that many things; guess I just do the ones that scare me most.) Nick, Thomas, and his wife Erin drove separately with two more dogs, Sophia and Teddy. There’s no way to wallow with all that happy fluff nearby.

Beckett

Teddy

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Other feats of the day: Evan made quick work of Monkey Tails (5.12c), and our new friend Joe did this with Teddy:

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And later, we got huge quantities of pizza and breadsticks fo’ cheap at The Gondolier. Our server was awesome and totally understanding about the “no cheese, no butter, no nothin’ on half” thing.

So it ended up being a great day full of sunshine and challenges and good friends. But even after all the fun, I came home feeling discouraged. Wondering, what kind of climber am I? Certainly a (slightly) more confident boulderer, but I’ve really started to love sport climbing. And when I’m unafraid — or at least manageably afraid — it feels incredible to climb so high. But is it okay to only lead routes I know I can flash? Climbing is about extending my limits, not setting new ones. If I want to really challenge myself on lead, how do I come to terms with fear and gravity?

This Saturday, I’m going bouldering. I want to climb close to the ground for a minute while I work on the whole courage thing. In the meantime, I’ll just keep getting stronger — Tuesday, I did four pullups! Up from two last week, and close to my “five, you know, soon” goal. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be doing ten by the end of the season. #dreambig


THIS JUST IN: I was just scrolling through my Facebook feed (like, after writing the post and right before publishing it), and I discovered this encouraging quote someone attributed to Winnie the Pooh:

“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” 

Maybe all I need is a mantra. Thanks, somebody’s grandma! I’ll keep that in mind.

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