Maybe I’ll keep trying to climb after all.
Maybe one day I won’t be afraid to lead a hard climb without taking at every bolt.
Maybe one day I will lead a higher grade than 5.10.
Maybe one day I’ll win the lottery.
Our climbing trip was coming to a close. I had lost more times than I could count in more card games than I could remember. I had woken up to frost on the tent and empty beer cans on the grass maybe not enough times and had only showered once in a ten-day period.
Both Dan and I, and the dog, were pretty gross but had one more day of climbing before we headed home.
It was cold in the morning. There was ice on the tent. We split pancakes and a burrito. I had coffee with pumpkin spice, Dan had it black. Then we were off.
Since we hadn’t been to many areas, hard to hit all of the Red in a few days, we went to another new crag called the Pendergrass Murray Recreational Preserve, the PMRP. It is home to over 338 different climbs, mostly sport, and in 20 different areas.
I had been working up to leading more climbs, crushing a classic 5.6 called Eureka, and a few others that a 5-year-old could scramble up. But hey, I was leading, so that was an improvement. Still, I wanted to start the day out with an easy lead, like so easy I could do it blindfolded.
It was a 5.6 called Swap Meet, only a 2 star, but it did have a cool golf ball looking feature. It was cold on the rock, my fingers were cold, my toes were cold. The chains at the top were cold but I got it.
Dan decided to pass.
The next climb was a 5.8+. There was even a plus on it! It was actually one of the first harder climbs I had done in a long while that I didn’t feel overly scared. I actually enjoyed the climb, I actually enjoyed the movement and the holds, and I actually enjoyed the climbing.
Reached the chains grinning. Who cares if it was only a 5.8, I was actually having a good time leading again!
It was also right next to a hard 5.10, perfect for setting up a top rope. We dicked around on the 10 for a while and then decided to try a different area. There was a classic 4-star 5.8 climb that was basically calling my name.
The description according to Mountain Project read “Great spicy climb for the beginning leader. Huge holds with great movements.”
And it was pretty awesome.
Killer holds on a slight overhang, long sixty-five foot route, awesome moves, jug haul the whole way. I liked it so much I climbed it twice. On lead.
These easy climbs were great confidence boosters. I actually liked these climbs. I actually wasn’t terrified. I was having fun.
It was awesome. This is what climbing was supposed to feel like. I was supposed to enjoy the moves, supposed to like the way the rock felt in my hands and like how tight my shoes were.
We hit one more area before the end of the day.
It took us up a steep hill, we wondered where the elevators were… or at least some of those rolling paths you see in airports. But we got there and there were some beautiful face climbs. Just my style.
And even better there was a 5.8 next to a 5.10. Close enough you could clip the chains of the 5.10 from the 5.8.
And even better?
I actually led the 5.10 and didn’t freeze up and didn’t want to cry and liked the climb.
I might have asked for a take on every bolt, I might have tried to move the same move a few times. I might have even hung at a bolt for a bit longer than I had to.
But I lead a 5.10 and liked it.
This is what the trip was leading up to. All those baby climbs and being scared and gradually building up so I could climb this climb.
It was a relief, a wash that maybe I shouldn’t quit climbing. That I like the moves and the climbs and the way rock feels. I like the people who climb and the lifestyle and the clank of draws and the way a clip sounds. I like when people yell rope and shove feet into shoes at least one size too small. I like the way chalk tastes and how my fingers feel after a long day of climbing.
I like climbing.
And I’m not going to stop.