Its 2 oclock in the afternoon. A cold wind is winding through the curves of the canyon, humming through the juniper treetops behind me and tossing the hair around my forehead. I try and relax with my hands and feet pasted to the side of a cliff. Hundreds of feet below me the boulder creek continues on its way towards boulder, foaming into white water and filling the canyon with a crashing white noise that is relaxing. I take a moment to warm my hands up by blowing into my fist, and thinking about how the peaceful canyon is clashing paradoxically with how fucking scared I feel.
For pretty obvious reasons, I cannot stop thinking about falling. Questions like, “well how do I know this equipment really works?” pop into my mind, as I think about moving further up the cliff. This is in spite of the fact that everything I have is new, and that I have already taken some pretty big falls on it without any problem. I’m being overwhelmed by my natural instinct which is telling me to be afraid of heights.
In spite of the description I just stated above, I actually enjoy climbing. It is one of my favorite things to do outdoors, and oddly enough I enjoy it because I get scared. Reading the description will probably have you thinking, “climbing doesn’t sound very fun at all” and in a way you are right
Climbing is an oxymoron. It’s terrifyingly enjoyable. I think that most people would be lying to you if they said that there was no instinctual fear running through their head when they reach the top of an 80 foot cliff and go about setting the top anchor. The idea of being able to fall (even if its just 5 feet) to the last quickdrawed bolt is scary as hell when you’re 80 feet above the ground.
But when you finally reach the top of that cliff. The final layer of protection is set. You lean back to enjoy a birds eye view of the canyon you are climbing in. An elated feeling of knowing that you overcame the voice in your head supercharges your body. It makes you feel like you can do anything. Or at that you could least climb possibly an even harder cliff.
With this in mind, I did not finish the climb that day. I passed it off to a friend who was feeling more confident than I was at the time. Sometimes its just a little bit too scary, and there is no shame in backing down on something you don’t want to do. That wouldn’t be a very moderately extreme, and as you might have noticed this whole website is dedicated to being moderately extreme. Yeah I like to get a route and push my limits, but I don’t actually want to hurt myself. Rock climbing is dangerous and scary, and sometimes I like my comfort zones.