Who can forget this amazing climbing classic?!
I have a confession to make. I’ve been toproping. Frequently.
I feel as though I’m cheating on bouldering. It’s been my obsession for years- unfortunately, my bouldering confidence wanes at times. One day I feel like I can climb to the top of anything I set my mind to. The next day, I can’t seem to shake the feeling that I totally suck.
How well you climb is directly linked to your confidence level. There’s no way around it. Just like with any other discipline, knowing that you can do it is a vital to success.
I’m very aware that everyone has bad days, but I’ve come to the conclusion that my mental (and physical) struggle is not based on probability: it’s my lack of endurance.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve been living on the road, rock climbing, for over 2 years and have gained little endurance. I am certainly much stronger than when we began the road trip, but I still get the feeling that one, or both, of my hands will spontaneously open up if I’m on the wall for over 30 seconds [not an experimentally acquired measurement, but a good estimate].
I also do not have a good gauge as to how long I can hold on once that inevitable pump sets in. I’ve never committed to climbing past it. Yep, I’m a sucker for letting go. This is further detrimental to my climbing since I am predominately a static climber who is 5’2″. I need to be able to make more moves and hang on for longer than, say, Spenser. (Sure, it’s easier, based on physics, for me to hold on to smaller holds because I have am lighter and have smaller hands…but that’s really not the point of this post, so let’s just acknowledge this and move on…)
Basically, I’m not really cheating on bouldering. I’m just using rope climbing to get better at it.
Possibly even more important: I want to get comfortable hanging on a rope so that I will be able to shoot video, or photo, while on a rope. We have a lot of filming planned for the rest of this year and I’m currently holding the team back.
You might be wondering why I haven’t dealt with these seemingly easy to overcome obstacles sooner? You guessed it.
Plain and simple, or not so simple, I guess. An irrational fear of rope climbing, to be exact. Rational fears are simple. Irrational are, by nature, more complicated to deal with.
Rationally, I boulder hard enough that I should be able to climb a 5.10 with no problem. Alas, I can’t. Or won’t. Whatever. Either way, it doesn’t happen.
I need to trust the rope. I also need to build that trust.
I thought I could just throw myself into lead climbing outside and it would get better. That I would conquer the irrational fear by submerging myself in what scares me: jumping right in, so to speak. It hasn’t worked- I’m still terrified.
So, after trying to rationalize my way through my irrational fear- I decided I needed to turn back time in a way. I needed to do what I should have done when I first started climbing: toproping. A lot. Pushing past the pump. Hanging on the rope. Learning to trust the gear. Taking baby steps to conquer my fears.
I feel like a complete gumby in the gym. Struggling on basics, such as how to get back to the wall if you’ve fallen and can’t reach a hold. Yep, I’m the girl kicking into the air while vigorously gyrating towards the wall- all while hanging off a top rope.
My pride is currently packed away. Some of Spenser’s had to be packed away with mine also since his sometimes-badass-girlfriend is flailing like a fish out of water while he patiently belays. Let me reiterate, patiently- so patiently that I feel bad so it makes me try even harder to hold on. Even when I feel like I will fall off any second. Hello, expanded comfort zone.
It’s not expanded enough, though. I want to try-hard sport climbing without thinking about the fall. I want to lead 5.12, 5.13, maybe even 5.14. I want to feel comfortable filming while hanging on a rope, high above the ground. Ultimate goal? A Yosemite big wall.
I know I will still have bad days, but I think they will be less frequent. Don’t feel good enough to go bouldering? Let’s go climb on ropes. Not doing well on lead? F it. Let’s top rope, bitches.