Sunday, October 6, 2013

Letting Go

After so long, most of the time, the warm-up lead is routine. A comfortable, easy, routine. The movement is fluid, like clockwork. The first clip is usually a breeze. Past the third clip, it is high enough to not hit the ground in case of a fall, unless the rope has way too much slack. After clipping in at the seventh, it is time to let go.

Staring at my hands, willing them to relinquish their hold, I block out the awareness of the distance I will drop. I inhale deeply, exhale, let go and let myself fall.

It seems easy. It is in fact, easy, for most climbers. It isn't for me, unfortunately. It is for me, the hardest part of my training. Many a time I simply couldn't do it. The fear isn't just in my head. It is real, it is crippling.

It's been three years since I took up sports climbing. It's been at least half as long since I took up lead climbing. The best I can do is clean a 5c (5.9) lead route. I can finish some 6a (5.10a) routes, but with one or two (or more!) rests, so they absolutely do not count. It is easy to blame my lack of progress on my lack of actual climbing - serious climbers climb 4 times a week, minimum, whereas I do once, sometimes not at all. My tiny stature - short limbs and all - makes a good excuse, as well as my limited brute strength and power, being a lady and all... *Ahem!*

Truth be told, even if I were more committed in my strength training in the gym, I'd still be held back by the one aspect I don't care to condition - mental strength. My climbing partner's been constantly reminding (which is how I politely mean nagging, scolding, threatening etc.) me to overcome my fear of falling.

This is the reason I am compelled to persist in the falling exercises - to learn to let go, and trust that everything will be fine. Yes, fine, in spite of risks of scrapes and bruises, and shameful involuntary squeals...

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