What I Accomplished and Learned in 2011
It is almost the end of 2011, which means that it is 10 months from the day I decided to get back into climbing.
This year has been one of ups and downs, plateaus and some amazing climbing. The biggest event of this year was the birth of my son Ryder on October 28th. Since this particular event, my climbing has slowed down substantially.
Although climbing has taken a bit of a back seat, I am not at all dissatisfied or concerned that I will never be able to climb again, and I am enjoying every moment spent with my son.
However, as I reflect at this year of climbing, I am amazed at the progress that I made and the people I have met.
Some of you may remember that when I started this year off, I had not climbed in three years and not seriously in five. My first day consisted of the following:
Not only did I feel discouraged, I wanted to immediately go home and sell my shoes on craigslist because they were too tight and I wanted ones that were more comfortable. My shoes were a nuisance, plus I only ascended two routes, both V0′s. I felt pathetic. Climbing was supposed to be fun, at least that is what I remember.
Not surprisingly, I spent the next week putting neosporin on my toes and coming up with some creative ways to stretch out my climbing shoes.
Within a few more weeks, I had my first full day of climbing and was able to hangdog on a 5.8. However, the highlight of this day Climbing at Gibraltar Rock was that I met Trevor and Cliff who became two of my closest climbing partners.
By this point, I was bitten by the bug and wanted to do everything I could to progress in my climbing. I made the leap back into lead climbing starting on an easy 5.6 and then on-sighted two 5.8′s at Fire Crags. After this, I climbed a V3 boulder problem up a Westmont College that I had been working on and it was on like Donkey Kong.
I began to project some 5.10′s with Trevor and lead as many climbs as I could. One of the biggest fears for people making this leap is falling. A fear that I was not immune too.
However, after a couple of whippers, falling became second nature, and although it gets my adrenaline pumping, it is really not so bad, as demonstrated in the photo below captured by Tom Shank.
Soon, I redpointed The Great Race (5.10a), Face that Seam (5.10a), The Jesus (5.10c). Then after work one day, on a trip up to Gibraltar Rock with Trevor, I on-sighted Toxic Socks (5.9) and Hazardous Waste (5.10a) – on the Hazardous Waste Wall. All of these climbs on lead.
I was amped! At one point on the middle of Hazardous Waste, I was 4 feet above my last bolt, and had 4 more feet to climb until the next bolt when my leg began to shake and my mind was questioning my commitment to this climb. A reoccurring thought kept passing through my mind, “if I fall now, it would not be so bad, but if I fall up there, it would be really bad!”
My mind was telling me to try and down climb to the bolt below (which would have likely casued me to fall), but I was determined to finish this climb. I made a decision to keep going, by the time I had surmounted the next bolt, the climbing became substantially easier and I finished the route.
This moment marked a change in my climbing abilities and confidence. I learned that even though I was cresting my limit, I did not need to give up and I could push myself beyond what I thought was possible. I look back at this as a turning point and it has impacted my climbing in a big way.
My next goal was to push into the 11′s and soon I redpointed Grib Dat Hole (5.11a) and continued to project on Finger Fit (5.11b).This same week, Tom Shank and I completed a 35 foot V4 boulder traverse we had been working on up at Westmont College.
Aside from the fact that I surpassed my climbing goal this year, which was to be able to climb 5.10a, my greatest accomplishment was really the people that I was able to climb with.
I met my climbing partners in a variety of different locales, which is a testimony to the versatility of this sport. Some of my partners I sought out via online methods, through Meetup.com – Trevor and Cliff and an online climbing forum - Aaron and Tyson; at the gym – Tyler, Luke and the only female member of the 70′s Zephyr Skate team Peggy Oki; my neighbor – Jeremy; through friends – Tom Shank and Bobby LaRue; or my College Professors husband – Darrell. Each of these people made climbing enjoyable and brought unique characteristics to the crags.
With the year coming to the close, it is nice to reflect on how things went this year and be glad that not only did I have a great year of climbing, but my son was born and my wife is now recovering from her pregnancy and we can start going on some adventures together again.
My goal for next year will be to continue to enjoy this maze we call life, climb well into the 11′s, boulder V6 and enjoy climbing and other activities with my wife and newborn son.
Merry Christmas and Happy Adventures!