The temperature is dropping. The aspens are yellowing. The author is taking a rock snooze in the Indian Peaks.
It has been a full five years since I’ve experienced an actual transition into seasons. When you live in the desert, the months range from blisteringly hot, to really nice, and finally it’s cold enough outside to notice our breath in the house… time to turn on the heat. Cacti, while stunning in their own right, don’t present any aesthetic value when approaching dormancy. An Ocotillo, for example, just ends up looking like a large grey stick.
Fall is undoubtedly perfect climbing weather here in Colorado. In the past few weeks, I’ve had some terribly manic-depressive incidents with this sport. The low point was a scary twisting-backwards-and-slamming-a-rock-bulge lead fall on the depressingly height dependent crux of a 5.8 (humbling, humbling). For the next two weeks I was a total headcase and absolutely no fun at the gym. Realizing that I was being crazy, my boyfriend forced me to take 8 separate lead falls at various distances from bolts. I even took a whip while attempting to clip the anchors, which for whatever reason is the scariest. My indoor leading abilities have been solid on most 10s, and I hope to push to a 10+ this week. I’m still top-roping 11s with some success and plenty of profanity.
Yesterday we went to Clear Creek Canyon and I made the decision to put some of my psychological improvement to the test on the 3-star Lunch money. I’ve only lead and redpointed a handful of 9s (mostly in Red Rocks, which barely qualify as 9s), and LM was my most ambitious lead at a 5.9+ I’m sure there are plenty of climbers who are similar to me in strength as I am (and of course the all of the ones who are much stronger) who can lead harder stuff outside, but for me the journey to feel comfortable on lead outdoors has been slow going.
It would be terrific to say that I magically redpointed this climb, but I’m more proud of the fact that I finished it, didn’t panic too much, and spent some time down-climbing to find the correct sequences. No official whippers, but I did take plenty at the crux. This was also my first 100′ lead, and my belayer had to anchor into a fixie because we were standing on a 40′ ledge to begin with. If I had testicles they would have receded significantly.
Instead of getting myself all worked up at the scary parts, I told myself over and over again that I was “a complete and total badass.” It worked! “NO, YOU ARE A BAMF. KEEP CLIMBING. YOU GOT THE JUG. HELL YES! CORE STRENGTH FTW.” At one point I think I tasted my own bile. It was kind of awesome.
In the grand scheme of the climbing world, having a sloppy lead of a 5.9+ isn’t remotely impressive, but to me I feel like I am making progress. In the end you’re only just going up rocks, right?