Learning to climb is fun, but it’s also humbling and – let’s face it – painful.
Fingers burn and skin tears, but it’s the hollow see sawing of your inner balance that’s the biggest limiter to progression. Can’t quite bring yourself to push up that little bit higher, grab the next hold. The mat seems safer, but it’s getting farther away and you’re only dong a V1 and people (strangers) are watching. Have you remembered how to fall, or will contact with the mat snap your legs like the skinny matchsticks they currently feel like, unable to propel you upwards and fight gravity. Fuck it. You jump outwards, brace and bend knees (being mindful no to roll on impact, you haven’t earned the showboat dismount of a roll just yet).
Looking intently at your fingers you regain composure, and squeeze your cheeks into a (semi) fake face of anguish to try and radiate the notion to strangers that you’ve been crushing hard and it’s your tortured skin that gave up first, not your strength or nerves. You know they don’t care, nor are they actually looking at you, but you do it anyway because you care more about other peoples perceived perception of your athletic prowess than you should. Note to self, no other climber gives a shit about your climbing ability, at least not in a negative sense,
Finally, Sat down on the mat with your legs stretched out forwards and arms back for support, you stare at the wall again for a few minutes pretending (again, for the sake of those strangers that have come to see your show) that your puzzling over the most efficient way to get to the top of the wall when In reality your battling with the push and pull of quitting or having another go. You know you should go again, even if you don’t top out this time you’ll at least toughen up your hands and muscles a little more so that two, three weeks from now it won’t be such a feeble and demoralising performance. But still you always find it easier to vere towards quitting time. Quitting time has beer.
Fuck it. You take a pull on your water bottle, tape up your palms and fingers, grab the chalk ball and squeeze. Walk over to the wall with confidence. Hands and feet in place. Go. Attempt to solve the problem for the first time, again.
It works better that way in life as well as the wall.