When your mind gets the best of you on a climbing trip, or so you think
By Meggan Wenbourne
So there I was, 30+ feet run out on the side of something way too difficult for me, over 1,000 feet off the deck. My first time on this route, way out of range of my belayer’s hearing and unable to place the last piece on my harness. I went light and cursed myself under my breath for not bringing more gear- the anchor was still another ten feet up. I’ve literally never felt so alone in my entire life. It’s at this point that my body wants to panic, I can feel my fingers start that familiar tingling, but there’s absolutely nothing I can do except keep going. I make a move up and feel my feet give way under me, one after another. My heart stops. My fingers are still crammed into a less than ideal section of crack as my feet paw at the smooth granite face, finding nothing. Instinct sets in as I try desperately to hold on, attempt to relax and remember what all those books I’ve been reading tell me about finding my inner warrior, but I’ve forgotten it all. At that point there are no warriors on the wall, just a scared girl who feels like she’s taken one too many chances. I realize I’m about to experience the most epic fall of my life. I feel my fingers slowly sliding, my palms sweating and realize this is it, I hope my belayer’s ready. My last index finger lets go, I feel the wind in my hair and my stomach in my throat. I want to cry. I try to scream and realize nothing is coming out.
Before I know it, I’m awake. My sleeping bag is suffocating me as I lay in a cold sweat in the back of the truck at 9,000 feet. This California girl is outside Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado fixing to do some climbing with friends.
Dreams like this can take the wind right out of your sails and make you want to go home. While I don’t discredit them, I do try to remember all the reasons why I shouldn’t let them get the best of me – I’ve taken my time and done a lot of learning, I’ve pushed my comfort levels gradually, I’ve taken classes and had experiences … the list goes on and on.
As I’m psyching myself up and remembering all the reasons I love climbing, I open the tailgate and am greeted by a layer of snow coating everything. Hmm … maybe our climbing adventures will have to wait until tomorrow; it appears Mother Nature has other plans.
Meggan Wenbourne is an avid climber, mountain biker and backpacker who works and plays in Santa Cruz, CA. She spends her time traveling to the mountains as often as possible to get lost in the pine trees and explore the granite rock of the Sierra Nevada range and has recently developed an obsession with the desert and its red rocks. When not away on an adventure, she can be found eating burritos and training at Pacific Edge Climbing Gym, riding amazing trails in the Santa Cruz Mountains or nestled away in her cozy tiny house with cookies and adventure reading.