There are many reasons why people get into a new sport, usually it’s because they see other people do it and think they’d give that a go. For me it was because I was nagged into it. I couldn’t stand to hear, not for one more second, talk about climbing.
My partner had fallen head-over-heels in love with climbing after a fun day trip in Thailand where he climbed for the very first time – top roping on Phi Phi Island. I had, unbeknownst to me, broken my back the day before, so I sat out this particular trip. He wanted to climb to the flags (which represented the top of a 130m climb) but was told only the experienced guys can do that, and he watched in awe as a couple of climbers tied in and headed up the rock. He looked at me and proudly proclaimed he was going to start climbing back home, and one day soon return to the crag to “climb to the top of that mountain” (so green at that time we didn’t know the term ‘multi pitch’).
So, true to his word, he took up climbing with his best mate. I wasn’t keen, I was worried about my back, and to be honest the idea of it scared me as I had just recently developed a fear of heights, but I went along to a few random indoor sessions anyway to satisfy my partner, who insisted I came along every time. Within a month he was learning to lead climb and taking his climbing adventures outdoors. I started to actually get a bit jealous, here I was watching my partner run off most afternoons and every weekend to go climbing instead of spending time with me. Not only that, he constantly talked about climbing- how wonderful it was, what he learnt, who he met, and his constant insistence that I should come out more. I hated that he loved something so much that I just didn’t get, something that actually frustrated me. Of the few times I had been climbing I just didn’t understand it. I was terrible, struggling up an easy, while he and his friends were charging up the hard stuff. Of course it eventually led to us having ridiculous arguments that I would start out of spite. Until one day it just clicked- I was being stubborn. I had early on fixed into my thoughts that climbing was something I couldn’t do (so wouldn’t enjoy) and now I was refusing to let myself think otherwise. I realised this was something my partner loved, and something that he was trying to share with me. I had to give it a proper go. So I bought a membership to his gym and tried to put aside my negative thoughts of not being any good and ‘could be doing x right now’ and focused on trying. Trying to get better, trying to enjoy myself, trying to share his enthusiasm of climbing. And soon I realised I didn’t need to try. I was having fun, I was seeing improvement, I was learning new things, I was meeting some amazing people… everything was positive. I still got (…get) really scared at times, but my newfound love for climbing meant I just dealt with it. The huge amount of ticks in the positive column certainly outweighed my one ‘scary’ tick in the negative. Im glad I didn’t let my stubbornness take control. That I didn’t let the fear of heights, the fear of falling, the fear of failing stop me from trying.
“Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try” – Gail Devers