Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Rock-Climbing Tale

When a close friend offers to take you and a small group of people, free of charge, to climb limestone and you can use all their equipment and she brings two boxes of chocolate truffles and you get to spend a half day with 100% grown-ups... You say, "Yes, please."  And I did.  Not only was it proved that my fear of heights has been cured, but an instant affection developed with scaling the face of a mountain.  Or crag.  Whatever.

This first trip showed so much of how I have functioned throughout life.  Some of it was encouraging.  Some of it was... A great eye-opener at long-term ways of thinking that need to go.  The following narration could be said of many situations throughout my lifetime:

This is our fearless leader.  Spiderwoman.  She scaled this rock with such grace and ease.  She is an artist.  She gave us such helpful instruction. When at the top, she showed us the chain we'd slap to indicate we made it and to alert the belayer that we were ready to repel down.
I was chomping at the bit to give it a go.  She made it look so fun and... easy.  When it was time for the first person to step into the harness (after our fearless leader bravely roped the climb), I jumped at it. Feeling fairly confident in my physical capability and never caring (much) when people learn from my mistakes (I am a first-born, after all), I walked down to the starting line. (I am still learning rock climbing lingo.  For those who climb, forgive me.)  If you'll notice in the picture below, the climbing shoes are resting next to my feet.  Unaware of how easily it could have been misinterpreted as a chance show off, it seemed like I'd have a better grip of the rock with my bare feet.  I liked the thought of nothing between me and the limestone.  You can also notice our leader's expression of my naive decision.
And this is how far I got with no shoes.  It was cold, but for some strange reason, my feet were sweating incessantly, making it feel quite slippery.  
In go the sweaty feet to the borrowed shoes.  I owe her some shoes, I think.
The beginning of the climb was tricky.  It was hard to find my route.  But the middle of the climb had lots of finger and footholds, and I felt like that natural climber I thought I was all along.
Then came the last three feet.  From my angle, they looked completely sheer, I tell you.  There I clenched for dear life, for half of a day.  Well, maybe it was more like three minutes, but in the situation, I was pretty sure it was most of eternity.  Despite the helpful coaching from our group, I could not see any holds from my angle.  I was so close to the chain.  It was just barely out of reach.  Then came the reasoning.  I'm practically there.  If my arms were just a wee bit longer, I might look like an ape, but I could just hit the chains hanging right where I am.  It's my arm's fault, really.  So in actuality, I have made it to the top.  Okay.
"I think I'm done."
"No, no, just rest.  You've been really tense, you just need to relax for a little bit.  You're so close!"
Ugh.  Do you really need proof that I have already made it, even though the pit of my stomach is telling me that, in fact, I haven't?
Suddenly, my mind went at quadruple speed, making up for some of that hangtime, and in an attitude of "Quit your frettin' and gett'er done, already!  I'm bigger than this!" I found a foothold and made it to the chains.
Slap!  Who's yo mama?!
Oh yes.  I am.  So... It might not be the flawless victory I imagined, and it might have been the only climb I did that day, and it might have only been a "7," but I slapped those chains, and it felt life-changing.
And now I am hooked.  Climbing won't get out of my head.  I'm learning the language and researching the gear.  Someday, I'll have my own gear and someday, I won't climb with shoes.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I value your feedback. Thanks for taking the time to share yours!


Related Posts with Thumbnails