Some of you may remember, back a few years ago, when I was consumed with climbing. You might even know that Kim and I met at the climbing gym in Southern California, and were climbing partners and friends before we dated. But over the last few years, I’ve been busy with work and school, and my free time switched more and more to kayaking. I was so far out of climbing, I was nervous about what I’d be able to do. I’ve only been on the rock twice in nearly 3 years, and once was just top-roping during a school event.
I’ve known Kim missed climbing, she much prefers it to paddling. A few months ago, Kim and I joined the local gym, and began going once or twice a week. She climbed really well, but I could barely drag myself up easy routes. But we trained, and I started feeling better. So last weekend, I suggested we headed up to the world famous Lover’s Leap, a climbing area a bit over an hour from our house, located in the beautiful Sierra mountains near South Lake Tahoe. As I packed our bags that morning, I held each piece of gear, reminding myself of its use, testing its movement. We had a brand new rope, from our wedding, still held with the zip-ties it was shipped with. I clipped them carefully, and uncoiled the rope into a battered ropebag. Not to be overly dramatic, but it reminded me of how I felt, the well travelled rope bag representing my climbing experience, the brand new rope representing how I felt, green.
Kim fell asleep on the drive, and I was nervous. I’d been nervous on my way to climbs before, but it had been a long time when a simple climb like the one planned had given me butterflies. A short hike in, and we were at the base of a 300+ foot face, and I racked the gear on my harness. And headed up. The moves were easy, and the gear was good. It was a gorgeous, crisp fall day, and it felt good. Really good. Better than I expected. The 1st and 2nd pitch went quick. Simple, straightforward climbing. I was having a great time. As I built the second belay, I scanned nervously the pitch above. It was a wide, wide crack. Low angle, but wide and with no obvious places to put gear. I started to get scared. The longer I looked, the more nervous I was. As Kim got to the belay, I admitted my nerves. Kim asked if we should bail, but I knew I couldn’t. I could, but it’d be the end of my climbing. I had to do it. As I got the gear back from Kim, we went over the commands if she couldn’t hear me as I finished the climb. I headed up, and it was easy. Halfway up the pitch, I really started to feel comfortable. It was great, and I was all grins by the top. Just a simple 3 pitch route, but I really liked it.
We don’t have plans for Halloween weekend, and normally I’d be thinking about paddling. Now, I’m thinking about paddling one day and climbing the other….
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