After not having put a harness on in over six months, and having not climbed roped routes in over six months, I harnessed up and went for the auto-belays during my alpine start this morning at 0600 hrs. I went halfway up first, then let go and wondered why I had let go. I wasn’t pumped yet. I rested a bit, still attached to the auto-belay, and then went at “Pink Exhaust” again. This time, I got halfway up and there was some pump building by that time. I rested briefly and pressed on. I felt my grip straining ever-more as I neared two-thirds of the way up. I told myself, “Go to exhaustion,” and kept climbing. I reached the top of the route, but more importantly, the top of the 40-plus-foot wall for the first time ever!!! I let go, got to the ground, and got a double high-five from my friend McKenzie, who was working at the climbing gym this morning!!! I made it!!!
I unhooked myself from the auto-belay and rested on one of the bouldering-pad benches while my body worked out its pains with the pump in my forearms and got caught up on circulation and oxygen. My shoes still need a tad bit of breaking-in, it turns out, because my feet ached as well, but I kept my shoes on to stretch them out again because it’s been a few days since I’ve climbed and they had likely shrunk a bit in drying out. I was riding that wave of endorphins and feel-good chemicals that one experiences when something monumental has just occurred and in thinking about it now, I was completely and totally in that euphoria of focusing on the next hold, where nothing else mattered and pure movement across the wall was happening for the at least the last third of that route toward the top. I was going to make it. I was going to do it, and I let go of everything else but the next hold. I remember specifically gripping that last hold at the top of the wall and looking for another, but there weren’t any. I had finished the route! I was at the top of the wall!!! I downclimbed one hold and then let go and let the auto-belay lower me to the mats below. I don’t remember anything but pure joy!!! McKenzie was on her way toward me with a big double high-five for me and a huge smile. It was real. I had reached the top of the wall for the first time!!! And there wasn’t a more perfect person to share that with this morning than McKenzie, who’s always encouraging me and helps me push just a little bit harder in the gym. She’s a very inspirational person, and I’m glad to have her as my friend. In some ways, I wish my other climbing buddies had been there to see it, but it was, in a very real way, better that only McKenzie was there to celebrate it with me. Thanks, McKenzie!!!
I was so stoked about logging that route on MyClimb this morning after the pump went away and I was left with my good feelings and my aching feet, which I finally relieved the discomfort of by taking off my shoes. I excitedly logged it as “Pink Exhaust”, which I had so named it because that was my last thought on the route – “Go to exhaustion.” I did, and found that I had reserves waiting in the wings. I wasn’t ready to let go yet when I gripped that last hold. Great to know!!! I would’ve climbed more, as I was encouraged by McKenzie to send the blue and yellow routes on the auto-belays on the same wall and knew I could send them this morning, but a group of men came in and I was, for some reason, intimidated by the thought of them watching me climb. It turns out that they were just in to rent some gear, but I had already gotten my valuables from my locker, put away my climbing gear and was ready to go by the time I realized that. My doctor always says, “End with a success.” Well, I couldn’t think of a bigger success this morning, so I shared one of my last mango pieces with McKenzie and then headed out. It’s a fantastic day!!!