Climbing – Day 47
With so many challenges to get through, I’ve almost trained myself to not think about what is going to happen until I get in the car to the venue. In this case, I was only going a few miles up the road to Magic Wood Climbing in St Neot. Somebody pointed out on Twitter that I didn’t have any kind of climbing on my list and probably against my better judgement, given my fear of heights, I looked to rectify that and ensure I was being representative of all activities. Aside from aeroplane based activities, of course; frankly, they can do one!
As I entered the converted barn, it pretty much took my breath away. Everywhere I looked there were walls of various shapes and sizes. I met Simon, who invited me upstairs to sit in front of the wood burner with a drink, as we talked about his love for the sport and why I was doing what I was doing. I think you would need a posse of psychiatrists to unpick that particular question.
We were having a lovely chat but Simon probably sensed I was stalling, as he invited me downstairs to take a further look at his self-built creations. Not unlike Peter Pan, he flew up a stepladder to show me a better view of the place and beckoned me to follow. I managed about 6 steps, before looking down and with pulse racing, stopped mid-climb and let out a whimpering noise. Simon obviously didn’t realise how pathetic I was about heights until this point, as he held out an almost disbelieving hand and encouraged me up. Once up, I felt a great sense of achievement to even manage a small stepladder.
I warmed up by tackling some bouldering. This involved manoeuvring around a small but angled series of walls. Problem two soon became evident: how an earth was I going to pull my own body weight around with my lack of upper body strength? I think even Spiderman would have issues with this. To me, it seemed almost impossible.
Simon wandered over with a harness and various ropes. My face fell as I looked up to a 30ft wall. Several knots were tied (which I repeatedly checked were tied correctly) and then after a lesson in technique, I took a breath and harnessed my inner Yazz: The Only Way is (indeed) Up! I tentatively tried to find my footing and the first bit was OK, as I fought against all of my thoughts of falling. Just under halfway up, I went into a full-on panic. I couldn’t find anything to grip to and forward momentum seemed impossible as I clung like an overly needy limpet to the wall.
I was lowered down on the rope. I went into moaning overdrive and I became insistent that it would be impossible to do. All I wanted to do was to run away. I had THE FEAR. Simon was not having any of it and like someone dealing with a petulant child, soothed away my negativity and encouraged me to try again. Against all my better judgement, I put my leg up and then groped to find a ledge for my hand and I repeated it. I felt better knowing that my rope could actually take my weight but still I didn’t look down. Half way up and the swearing started – apparently a common place for such outbursts.
I wavered. Surely I had gone far enough? “Keep going!” I heard from below. Damn, he was like the Alex Ferguson of climbing. I willed myself up a few more feet until I got to the top (or near enough for me). Even writing it up later and recalling it made my heart race and my hands sweat. I did it, though! I actually did it! The exhilaration I felt when I got down was quite overwhelming.
Go me, climbing to the top!
Simon beamed a knowing smile as I thanked him for making me continue. It would have been so easy to give up. I am a grown woman; if I didn’t want to do it, I would be in my rights to decline the incline. That’s what makes it so sweet. I stuck with it and the buzz stayed with me for hours after.
I am learning that sometimes, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is good for you. Charles Atlas once said: “Step by step and the thing is done.” I am not going to be climbing Mount
Everest anytime soon, but I got a lot from this and I might just carry on trying to surprise myself by pushing myself that little bit further. Who knows where it might lead?
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