I found myself on the car ride back from my post-Thanksgiving Joshua Tree trip with a little bit less skin, a lot less pride, a lot more dirt, and just the right amount of necessary introspection.
Let me explain.
Climbing has always been a multifaceted sport for me, as I must assume it is for many of those that spend their holidays, weekends, and free evenings partaking in it. No other sport pushes me in so many aspects; after a good climbing session, I am mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted. Most of the time I just leave it at that – I like climbing because it requires more than brute strength. Climbing requires more than technique. I’ve always known that, but what I learned this past weekend is that I love climbing because it is honest.
Once again, let me explain.
After a day of bouldering and a day of trad climbing that had me completely worked (demoralized, beat, shattered…pick what you will) I spent the third day following the routes my friends decided to lead. I figured that the emotional stress I endured whilst contemplating the many versions of my death-by-leading-sandbagged-trad-routes would be relieved now that I’d be on good, old fashioned toprope.
There I was, feeling so badly for myself… which seemed absolutely ridiculous. Everything about the climb seemed to make me cry. There were tears shed because I couldn’t do it clean. There were tears shed because I may not be able to do it at all. There were tears shed because I remembered I was breaking through my rubber on my Muiras. There were tears shed because I made such a pathetic attempt at tape gloves that they had almost completely fallen off. There were tears shed for just… about…everything.
Who cares if I couldn’t finish the route? Who cares if I finished it and flailed the whole way? I’ve never been a competitive climber in that way and I generally try not to judge my self-worth based on the grace or the grade of my latest send. But this was.. too much.
A minute or two went by and my (blissfully oblivious to my mental breakdown) climbing partners called down and asked how I was doing. I managed to choke down a few tears before yelling back, “I’m all good!!!!!!!!!!!”
Though this was after I had informed those same two climbing partners that “I CAN’T DO THIS” and “I DON’T THINK I CAN DO THIS” and “I THINK SATAN MADE THIS ROUTE TO MOCK ME”, I thought I maybe had them duped. Maybe they thought I was the eternally happy, hardcore (toproper?), and determined climber of the year instead of Ms. Waterworks 2012.
Maybe that was what motivated to wipe those tears with my throbbing, dirty hands with their pathetic tape gloves hanging on for dear life and get my act together. I can’t say it was pretty. I can’t say I didn’t grunt and swear and scream and hyperventilate up that thing. But I can say I made it to the top.
So why did I expose you to such an unflattering and detailed description of a climb that didn’t have any crazy hard sends, no new records, no epic bigwalls, and no crazy injuries?