Monday, November 14, 2011

Why the world needs another climbing blog

The short answer is, it doesn't.

Every gear retailer has a blog now. Every sponsored athlete seems to have one too. And then there are the obsessed masses who must write about climbing between once a month climbing outings in order to keep the adrenaline rush going. Junkies.

I suppose the sheer fact that I am sitting in front of a computer, writing this on a Monday morning while I'm supposed to be doing my 9-5 puts me squarely in that third category.

So why put more Monday-morning-my-weekend-was-so-awesome-wish-I-was-still-climbing-and-not-at-this-lousy-job drivel out in the blogosphere?

Because if you're reading this, you are probably one of us. One of the weekend warriors that lives for Friday afternoons when you can throw all of your gear in the back of the car and VAMMOOSE!

Because if you're reading this, you need this. You need it like a smack fiend needs their next hit. You went climbing this weekend and got to experience that delicious Eden where you lived like you once were- exhilarated and free, in nature. You got home Sunday night with a big grin on your face, at peace. Then you woke up this morning and went to work, crashing back to the reality of responsibilities like bills, jobs & kids.

Because, especially if you are a woman and a climber, you probably struggle mercilessly with fear and self-doubt. Not that these struggles are unique to either women or climbers in general. Rather, that women climbers seem to have a unique dichotomy of experiencing climbing as both incredibly self-affirming and incredibly self-effacing. Sometimes at the same time.

My husband, a professional rock climbing guide, called me this morning from Red Rocks. There were several parties ahead of him & his partner on the route they did yesterday, so he spent a lot of time hanging out at the belays with the second from the party ahead of them. He described her as a cute, tall, blonde chick who was a strong climber. He learned that she use to lead 5.11 trad climbs. When asked why she wasn't swinging leads on this 5.8 climb with her partner, she told him that she stopped leading after she started climbing with a group of women who climbed even harder then her.

This apparently led to a punctuated conversation at each subsequent belay about what it is about women climbers and how they can feel so threatened by other women climbers. Or, more exactly, why we are so quick to compare ourselves to other women climbers and deem ourselves unworthy. How that feeling plays that out is unique to each woman. Some, like this woman, choose to give up something. Others find excuses to mean or harsh to these women, trying to bring them down to their own level.

Earlier in the week, I was climbing with a friend who had pretty much given up on climbing this summer. She had a litany of legitimate sounding reasons- a pretty serious fall earlier this season, scheduling conflicts with preferred partners etc., but if you stripped away all the "fluff" at the heart of it, she doubted herself and her climbing abilities. So she avoided the issue by not climbing at all.

I suspect there is more then three of us out there (for those having trouble with the math, I'm including myself in the total count) that experience this place. This place of desperate passion for the sport of climbing that drives us so hard to achieve and yet, the failure to achieve will cause us to give up way too easily.

For those of you who have ever experienced this place, or who feel like you live in this zip code, welcome.  I hope this blog can be a refuge for those struggling to find again the joy of climbing when you feel like you're ready to give up on climbing altogether.

And that, I believe, deserves another blog.

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