There was a great deal of excitement about a new route in the indoor climbing gym that involved a diagonal dyno. Not something I would try, if it was up to me. I realised very quickly that explaining the reason I avoid dyno’s and trying to get out of it, would put more of a spotlight on me than just trying it quickly.
Anton had a great time doing it; in fact he kept going back for more.
I didn’t even try and resist. I stood on that mantle ledge, aware of a number of onlookers. That de ja vu feeling of ‘I don’t have the strength to face this challenge’ came over me. The difference here was that I couldn’t hide or walk away without having to explain why I was being so irrational. My witnesses were completely aware that I have what it takes to complete this jump safely. With great empathy, they talked me through what was required. Somehow they must’ve sensed my lack of faith in my abilities. ‘All you need to do is lunge’. It sounded attractive but the fears of past injuries were shouting the opposite.
I took a leap of faith; aware that my fears were echos from the past and relevant to a smaller, weaker version of me. I would trust their belief in me and encourage a new mindset. I also wanted to let go of all the foreboding that came from past disappointments and to welcome more adventure and safe endings as viable scenarios.
What a scary joy… elbowing out excuses and trying something that had such an uncertain outcome.
Once again I realised that humility fosters grace…. an opportunity that eludes you if you avoid uncertainty!
I was having the usual annual panic about where my 10 year old could have his next party because it falls in Winter and I’m always on the look-out for fun indoor activities. A colleague of mine suggested I check out the City Rock indoor climbing gym in Observatory.
After the boys had one taste of City Rock, Kieran was adamant that his party had to be there! Although I always say I’m looking for these activities for the boys, I’m a bit hyper myself and was so frustrated that I’d been ‘grounded’ by my plastic surgeon, who said climbing will make my fresh scar look worse. I couldn’t wait to be given permission to climb.
The party was a huge success because even the boys who arrived saying that they’re afraid of heights or that they’d first just like to watch and learn… ended up needing no encouragement to climb up right to the top of the walls. One feels very safe being attached to a rope in the hands of a supportive and friendly instructor.
I realised pretty soon that I should acquire belay skills if I wanted to avoid having to spend a fortune on my boys’ new climbing obsession. Fortunately Gerhard was looking for a partner with whom to do the lead course. His sister was his belay partner but was finding it hard to balance her brother’s climbing addiction with her demanding Cross Fit schedule.
Within weeks I’d learnt how to belay and was preparing for the lead course. You can’t climb alone and you also need to climb with people you really trust. A climbing partner needs to be super reliable given that it’s a life or death responsibility. I expected to wait about a year before doing the lead course but because Gerhard was on an incremental learning curve and because he relied on me to be his belayer, I was forced to try and keep up. He passed first time.
Unfortunately my first lead test ended in failure. Gerhard fell at least 3 metres while leading because when he asked for slack I thought he was planning to clip and gave him at least 2 metres of rope just before he did a fall test. Well let’s just say that I lifted off the ground with the force of momentum from his fall and our examiner was just relieved that no one was injured!
Anyway, I like to think that one learns a huge amount from failures and that I’ve become one of the most responsible and proactive belayers that I know.
It was great to be able to belay my boys for free. Lead climbing (once I eventually passed the test) is a huge thrill because you lead above the bolted rope which means that you could fall about 2 to 3 metres. Amazing how that helps one focus on climbing well!
My boys loved watching the guys like Ryan bouldering. Bouldering is done without ropes and above crash mats. The fact that you solve the puzzle your way makes it very interesting. I struggle with the overhangs which require extremely good climbing technique and sometimes you just can’t avoid pumpy arm work. We were lucky enough to watch Matt Bush coaching students to climb with tennis balls in jugs, that forces them to rely on legs and avoid pulling themselves up using pure arm strength.
The rest is history and recorded in my blogs… Soon our instructor friends were inviting us on outdoor excursions and my world changed completely. Since experiencing the miracle of climbing outdoors (Lakeside Pinnacle was my first) and watching the sun set after a strenuous day of challenge and excitement, you’ll always crave that single-minded focus and feeling of tired satisfaction.
If you love climbing or are just hungry for adventure then this is totally for you!