Friday, November 9, 2012

Pushing Boundaries

The generous morning sun brings out the contours of the mountains 93,000,000 miles below, but it is a chilly morning. The wind blows. I forgot my long pants, but it doesn't matter. I won't be needing them. We have headed south, and it will soon be warm. 

There is nothing external to indicate that this day will be different than any others. Internally, however, I've decided to push boundaries, climb some things that are a little over my ability. This is not easy for me. I am not a risk-taker by nature. I am a firstborn. I like to play by the rules. Keep everybody happy, including myself. Keeping myself alive is also a plus.

This is my fourth climb of the day. I'd already led two, TRing one. This is another lead. It is a very easy start. About 1/3 of the way up, it gets a little scarier. By the time I reach the roof on the right in this photo, my fingers are sore (that's Shelf Road limestone for you), my body is tired from my three previous climbs, and the holds on this part of the route are virtually non-existent.

Funny, because other places I climb have small holds. Eleven Mile Canyon is my favorite, and I thrive on it. But not at Shelf. And the last 15 feet of this climb are the most difficult. I tether in at the base of the roof and rest for a while. My arms are so pumped I have veins popping out that I've never seen before. Resting helps me gather my wits, slow my breathing, and calm down a little, but it does nothing for the fact that as soon as I start up again, so does all that. I wonder if I'm going to be able to finish. 

Right at the top by the anchor I slip my arm into the crack. But there's nothing to hold onto in there, so I tentatively grab onto the hope that my arm isn't going to slip out, causing me to fall {screaming, I'm sure} for more feet than I want to think about. I've been scared on climbs before, but for some reason scared feels different on every climb. This isn't a "I'm too tired for this," scared or an "I want to quit" scared or a "I'm ready to get off" scared. This is a "I can't get my mind or my body to do what I need them to do in order to pull this off," scared. I've had times when it was one or the other. But both? Not that I can recall.

But my arm stays put. Miraculous. I anchor in, trying not to move too much and slip.

I get down and promptly take a nap while the other two in my group continue to climb. I am done for a while. Too much adrenaline. Though I do TR another route later in the afternoon.

Now, days later, all I can think about is going back and doing it again. Because I didn't nail it. And I don't like that.

Lesson Learned: Sometimes, when we doubt ourselves physically and mentally, the strength is there. We just have to go for it and watch it emerge, almost as if from a distance.

Then, once we're in and safe, it really is alright to take a little nap.  :-)

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