I’ve been in a climbing funk for a while now, half assing it at the gym, bailing to clean the house or take the dogs on a long walk. It was easy to say it was my month-of-weddings coming up or the classes I was attending at WAC, but really I’d use any excuse to not go to the gym. I’m not really sure why but it all just stopped being fun. The results were pretty expected. I hiked up to Bob’s Wall with a friend and could barely pull moves. She was sweet—reassuring me that the first time out for the season usually involves kicking off some rust, but it was more than that. I’m was simply weak, uncertain and unhappy.
It’s easy for me to get in to a doubt spiral. I feel weak and so I climb weakly—as a result I’m not getting stronger and I continue to downgrade what is possible. I feel like I have no climbing partners (which is blatantly untrue—I have so many wonderful people around me) and that it’s a struggle to put together a weekend trip. I’m embarrassed by what I can’t do—I’m scared to fall, I’m scared to try and fail.
Despite all of this I packed my climbing shoes and harness in with my heels and fancy dresses when I went home for two weddings this past month. Despite being nervous to talk to a stranger, I reached out to the Flash Foxy crew to see if anyone was willing and able to partner up with me. The very lovely Shelma wrote back almost immediately and after an exchange that included safety systems, a brief climbing portfolio and some scheduling, we were set to head out to the Gunks the Thursday between weddings.
A few things to know: Shelma is a total BAD ASS and the Gunks are entirely different from anywhere I’ve climbed and would have unnerved me even if I was feeling top of my game. I was really glad that I was totally open in my emails about where I was at—Shelma didn’t expect a crusher and didn’t get one. We got on two two-pitch climbs, well below the grade I thought I was at but totally realistic to where I really was. I tried to lead and got about ¾ up a route and backed down. She was patient, kind and a great partner. Sadly we took absolutely no pictures. We talked about our various women’s groups on the ride home. Flash Foxy is a total inspiration to me—it was really nice to hear about how it functions and, more importantly, what she isn’t trying to do.
The next day, working remotely from my step-mom’s house in NJ, I spent about 15 minutes asking around and had a trip to Squamish on the books with my dear friend Dyan. (Despite her bouldering goals she was happy to spend a weekend on trad with me—like I said, I have SO MANY wonderful people in my life.)
Squamish was looking good—and then rain moved in. And got worse. Saturday was a total wash out, though we did get to explore Vancouver. Sunday was damp but sunny and we hit Smoke Bluffs. I jumped on lead… and proceeded to spend about a year at a traverse between one crack system, over a little slab and up to the next. Complete with panic gear plugging (bad piece but it’s a mental piece, just don’t fall!), some cleavage catching dropped gear (what a rack! sigh) and a scurried run up to the anchors, it was a wakeup call to how out of practice I am. Dyan was wonderfully patient and when after she re-lead it we left the rope so I could top rope. And, of course, I scurried up like a little monkey in about five minutes. We spent the rest of the day climbing on mostly-dry rock and having a great time… but it was all very sobering. I. Need. Practice.
The next day we headed out to areas we thought would be dry and, shocker, found damp rock and wet cracks. We wrapped up with a bit of bouldering and a stop at Climb On before battling Vancouver traffic home. We talked a lot about goals, frustrations, training plans… similar to my trip with Shelma it was a very real check in with where my head is at and what I need to do to shake the cobwebs out.
I’m still trying to get out of the funk. I got my butt kicked by my boyfriend when I jumped in his core routine and I’m trying to figure out a way to stay motivated to run so I don’t completely die when Devi and I fly to Montana for the Headwaters Relay. I need to remember—it will all hurt, and then it gets slightly easier. It will hurt and I will fail but, in doing so, I can regain the trust in my body. But it’s going to take work. It’s times like this that I miss my Moravian Cross Country girls and the way we trained together—but wishing for the kind of training and team that was only possible in college isn’t going to help me out now.
So here I am, once again saying I’m going to train. I hope I can stick with it.