A year ago I shared this post about my experience as a beginning climber, namely one in the early stages of what has basically becoming a bouldering obsession.
What a year it’s been.
At the time I wrote that post, I…
- still struggled on 0s and 1s
- only dreamed of being able to climb a 3.
- avoided overhung routes like the plague.
- probably couldn’t even bench the bar.
- definitely couldn’t do anything resembling a pull-up.
As of today, I…
- have sent a single V4.
- consistently project and figure out 3s.
- spend most of my time in “the cave.”
- regularly bench 60 pounds (which is 80% of my 3-rep max).
- can do assisted pull-ups minus 58 pounds (which is 80% of my 1-rep max).
A lot of my previous post focused on how I often felt out of place physically in the gym. Not much has changed: I still feel out of place often enough and I’ve gained weight since then. But I’ve also gained the ability to climb better, smarter, harder, and longer.
I think a lot about the women and girls I see in the gym (clearly trying out the sport) who don’t have the typical, slender climber bodies. I’m nowhere near an expert climber, but I hope they can see me, someone with a big chest and dimpled, stretch-marked thighs, and realize it doesn’t matter. The size of your body ultimately has nothing to do with how hard you’ll crush it.
What does matter? That you’re willing to try at all.
Bouldering is a constant struggle of climbing high (literally and figuratively) and falling down hard. But we keep getting back up! We learn from our mistakes and we solve problems and we encourage each other as best we can.
Climbing 3+ times a week for a year now has made me physically stronger than I ever dreamed of being (truly), but more importantly, it’s helped increase my mental and emotional strength. It’s taught me to say continually say “I can’t do that yet” and “Maybe if I…” among many other cheesy, ridiculous sentiments that surprisingly keep one motivated. I go to the gym when I’m feeling happy, sad, exhausted, lost, determined, optimistic, and worthless. Those dumb fake rocks bring me true joy, as do the people I climb with.
My SO may have been the person to technically introduce me to bouldering, but my bouldering journey has been influenced most strongly by women. I shared my buddy passes time after time with my now-lifelong spotter and belay partner Taylor. I made her climb again and again until she fell in love with the sport too.
Taylor and I were already good friends, but few things solidify a relationship even further quite like hours spent together in the bouldering gym working through problems (on the walls and in our lives). Get yourself a Taylor who will take hundreds of climbing photos and force you up the wall when you’re being silly but also calm you down when it gets scary AF to go any higher (because it will).
And if I can offer one last tiny bit of advice, for life and bouldering…
Because if you climb on, one day you might boulder outside for the first time and absolutely amaze yourself.