Real Talk: The climb takes patience

As I checked in at Earth Treks yesterday, I decided to purchase the $150 seven pack instead of paying $25 for the day. Given how little income I have right now, this is a splurge. But it’s almost embarrassing to own as much climbing gear as I do with as little skill as I have. (The same could be said of cycling, so I’m glad my bike doesn’t charge me per ride.) So in a matter of seconds, I invested a little more. Climb on.

Climbing wall at Earth Treks Crystal City
Every time we go, it takes me a few (VERY) easy climbs to warm up. The first few attempts are kind of pathetic; I know what to do and how to do it, but as soon as I look down I feel an immediate need to touch the ground. I panic and give up in that very second. As I touch the mat, I’m immediately ready to try again, to go a little farther. 
This insecurity on the wall used to annoy me. That, and Mike used to look at me from the ground and try to encourage me to the top, which also annoyed me. It made for an unpleasant experience. I let that frustration hold me back, because to feel weak and fearful and inadequate all in the same moment isn’t fun. That said, once I am back on the mat, I look up and can’t believe I was so quick to give up.  
So, I’ve decided to be patient with myself. I’m OK with not going all the way up right away. I take my time and build the confidence with one or two Intro climbs. Then I take on the more challenging options. As of yesterday, the 5.7 routes are my jam. I have just enough skill and persistence to finish them every time, barely enough strength to make it up. I come down smiling like a fool because I’m proud of myself. 
Yesterday, Sarah and I climbed confidently for almost two hours and then decided to try some bouldering. If you think you might be getting the hang of things on a climbing wall, with the luxury of a belay, go try your hands at something else. I was literally humbled down to the mat with every attempt. As it turns out, I have very little upper body strength—not to mention a general lack of bouldering skills—and what little I do have goes real quick on that short wall.
Boulder Wall Earth Treks Crystal City

(This is very poor form, based on what we saw from fellow climbers.)

We made it up the Intro routes with ease, but every V1 was a game over. We just couldn’t do it, no matter how many times we tried. We laid back on the mat and looked up, unable to figure out why it was SO HARD. We both hit the mat over and over. Eventually we laughed it off and decided we’d just have to come back. We won’t be expert climbers or boulder wall monkeys in one day.

If you watch experienced climbers, you see patience, grace, and concentration. They’re not concerned with the time it takes to get to the top. They look at their options, and take their own route. There is more than one way to finish a route, and they might have to try a few before one works. They hold on, but know how to ration their strength. They seem calm, cool, and collected, and then fall when they need to. They know they can climb up again when they’re ready. They don’t gloat at the top. They look down with satisfaction, and usually with gratitude for the person who held them up. They’re confident in a quiet way. They trust themselves. They usually have impressive lats and forearms, too.

Hanging on the boulder wall

(Where’s my belay when I need it?!)

I love this experience because it’s exactly how I feel as an entrepreneur right now.

To move forward and up requires patience, some skill, and a willingness to resist panic. I know I can do it; I know some, but not all, of the things to do; I feel the familiar fears and insecurities. I know that I only can find the holds, but others can give me direction. I can step back to pause, contemplate, and decide to move forward.

I’m on a wall and people can see me; this is not a private climb. But it’s just me, and while I only need to move myself up, I need support too. I may have a mat to land on, or a rope to hold me in place, but I don’t want either of those things to stop me from taking on the challenge. I know that feeling of landing back on the ground just as well as I know the feeling of reaching for the top. I want the latter. I know it takes both work and patience to get there. The key must be in embracing both, being okay with the days when I need the mat, but also learning to loosen my grip and trust the push up.


  1. January 31, 2017

    This is awesome! Can’t wait to see your efforts in business take off!!

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