Last week, I was lead climbing an overhung route.
For those of you who don’t know this, lead (or sport) climbing is when you clip the rope into pre-set carabiners as you climb up the wall. This requires you to pull up rope from the belayer as you climb. This is in contrast to top rope climbing where the rope is attached to an anchor system at the top of the climb. There is very rarely much, if any, slack in the rope when top rope climbing.
I had to pull up quite a bit of rope to clip the last clip of the climb… which meant that if I fell, I would fall much farther.
I couldn’t do it.
I thought I was going to puke… or have a panic attack! It felt as though my entire body was shaking (I know for a fact that my legs were!). I was having trouble calming myself down.
I asked my husband (my belayer) to take (hold the rope tight) so that I could hang there for a minute and try and get myself calmed down enough to clip the last clip of the climb.
I hung suspended in the air (deathly afraid of heights I will add😉), trying to calm myself down.
Logically, I knew I was safe. I knew that I had the ability to clip the last clip (it was a 5.7 climb and I typically climb 5.9 pretty easily on top rope).
But… my body (and my mind) wasn’t comprehending this.
I couldn’t get myself calmed down. I didn’t have the courage to go for it. I was too scared to try.
So, I had my husband lower me to the ground.
While I was proud of the attempt I made, I was also frustrated and determined to try again.
After I belayed my husband on a route, I was determined to try it again.
I thought I would feel better the second time around after having had the chance to calm myself down.
I climbed the route again on lead and got to the same clip… and felt the exact same way that I did the first time.
I couldn’t do it. I was too scared.
Again, I hung in mid air for awhile trying to get myself calmed down enough to try and go for it… but, I still couldn’t do it.
So, I had my husband lower me again to the ground.
When I got to the ground, there were two women around my age who had started climbing beside us. They were more experienced than I was with climbing and gave me some pointers to keep in mind for the next time.
Trust yourself and your ability.
Keep moving so that the fear doesn’t paralyze you.
Think about only what’s in front of you (aka stay present in the moment).
(these weren’t exactly their words but the essence of what I heard😉)
Ah, yes… I know these things to be true.
I was determined to try one last time… thank you Dave (my husband🙏) for your support, patience, and belief in me!
The third times a charm (so they say) and in this case, I found it to be true!
I tried it one last time and made my way up it pretty easily (or so it felt this way as compared to the first two times).
What was different?
I trusted myself and my ability.
I kept moving.
I stayed present (and tried to stay out of my head!).
Yes… I just kept moving.
Can you relate?
Does the fear sometimes paralyze you and keep you stuck?
Do you often find yourself second guessing (yourself), which only serves to slow you down from reaching your goal?
Do you get so lost in your thoughts about what could happen, that you can’t move yourself forward in the direction you desire?
Yes… I’ve been there too and still often find myself in that place (especially when I’m climbing!).
If so, how could you work with these states in a different way so that they don’t derail you from achieving your goal(s)?
Here’s to trusting ourselves, moving forward (even if it is baby steps), and staying present in the moment, for the sake of our own satisfaction and growth!
As always, in Ultimate Support of you!
PS Two days after this, I climbed two overhung routes that were harder (5.8) with much less difficulty. For me, it seems that getting past the first hurdle is often the hardest!