12 in 12: Biting the Bullet
I was still a little unsure of what I was doing. Motions were mechanical, and my mind was blank. I used that blankness to overcome the smart part of my brain that was telling me, “You stupid idiot, what are you doing??!” It’s that little pause in your synapses that can be a window of opportunity to do something reckless, dangerous, and just plain fun. I used it wisely and kept moving forward: figure 8 follow-through, draws on the harness, belayer locked and ready to go, a few steps toward the climb, start climbing. Clip the first bolt, then the second, take. Hang out for a minute, climb to the third bolt, clip, take. And so on. I think I went three clips in a row at one point. Yippee!
Then, on that route, it occurred to me that I was actually pretty afraid of falling—OK, that’s a natural fear. But let’s take a closer look at that: I’m afraid of falling. I’ve talked before about getting over that fear of falling (read it here), which I thought I had. What I realized is that I’m not over it and I may never be. Dammit. My body is strong and capable, but my mind is getting in the way. It’s really a matter of learning to control that fear in every situation on every climb. So how do I do that?
I made a mental checklist mantra to run through any time the fear bubbled up in the back of my mind. 1) Am I going to die if I fall? No. 2) Am I going to break a leg or have any major bodily harm? Highly unlikely. 3) What’s going to happen? I’m going to fly through the air, feel weightless for a second, and eventually come to a relatively soft stop. Hey, that actually sounds pretty fun.
I made it to the top of that climb, not without a few whips and a gratuitous amount of taking. I was psyched, and now I have a project: Wet Dream (5.12a) at Wall of the Nineties in Clear Creek Canyon, Colorado. I feel like I’m telling people I’m about to have a baby or something; I’m excited and anxious and want to shout it from the rooftops. I HAVE A PROJECT!
What’s your project? Email me at email@example.com
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