Climbing Through Fear


(Note: This article focuses on how to power through being terrified out of your mind when you’re bouldering. If you came here looking for a step-by-step/need to know guide, I have one of those too! Check out 5 Things To Know Before Your First Bouldering Comp :) )

My second climbing comp is under my, waistband of my workout tights, but you get the message. If you had told me a year ago that I would have done anything like this, I would have laughed at you. Competition isn’t in my nature and it tends to make me enjoy things less instead of more. Weirdly though, bouldering competitions have the opposite effect, and it seems that I somehow get exactly what I need out of them.

I was scared to do this one. Battle of the Bay was not at my home gym, and was at a gym that produces some incredible climbers due to their innovative walls. My gym's routes are short, technical, and dynamic. Dogpatch Boulder’s routes are long, technical, and TALL. I don’t lead climb because I can’t be too far from the ground, so bouldering on a taller wall stirred up a lot of anxiety in me.

I wish I could tell you I ignored my fears and had the best climb of my life. I didn’t. There were many times when I let go instead of hanging on, chose not to push myself instead of trying harder and risking a fall. I didn’t rise above every self-doubt and anxious feeling I had, but I did overcome some — and I feel really good about that. I made myself climb some things I would have balked at otherwise. I dropped off the top of the wall even when I was sure I was going to break both of my legs and be rushed to the emergency room. I didn’t and I wasn’t. I let go and everything. was. fine.

I didn’t get to climb everything I wanted to. I ran out of time and wish I could have done more, certainly. But what I was able to accomplish has stuck with me. I still enjoy my shorter walls and technical problems, but I’m not so scared to reach for the top. I still have my fears, but I’m more comfortable facing them.

A year ago I had given up climbing because I was too scared/too depressed/too convinced I’d never get better. But here I am, sad because I can’t get in one last session before the Thanksgiving holiday. Granted, I’m not going to be on an REI catalogue anytime soon, but I’m improving and learning new things with every new day, and that feels amazing. While I wish I could have climbed harder or better or whatever, I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished so far and know next time it’ll be even easier. I think that’s what sports are supposed to be about?